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Strep Throat (cont.)

Strep Throat Medications

When the diagnosis of strep throat is confirmed by laboratory testing or when it is highly suspected clinically, antibiotics are generally prescribed. If administered early, antibiotics can help decrease the duration of symptoms (by about 1 day), and they can also make individuals less contagious within 24 hours of initiating treatment. More importantly, antibiotics are effective in preventing the uncommon potential complications of strep throat. Without antibiotic treatment, strep throat will generally improve on its own within 2 to 5 days, as it is a self-limited disease that will run its course without complications in the majority of cases.

The full course of antibiotics should be taken, even if the individual is feeling better after a few days. Premature discontinuation of antibiotics can result in relapse of illness, generation of antibiotic resistant organisms, or in the development of complications from inadequately treated strep throat. The antibiotics that are generally recommended include the following:


This effective, inexpensive antibiotic can be administered orally for 10 days, or a one-time injection can be administered in those individuals who may not be compliant or able to tolerate oral medications. Penicillin derivatives, such as amoxicillin, are also effective.


This class of antibiotics has been found to be very effective in the treatment of strep throat, and is a reasonable alternative to penicillin.


This class of antibiotics (erythromycin, azithromycin (Azithromycin 3 Day Dose Pack, Azithromycin 5 Day Dose Pack, Zithromax, Zithromax TRI-PAK, Zithromax Z-Pak, Zmax) and clarithromycin (Biaxin, Biaxin XL, Biaxin XL-Pak) and are recommended in individuals who have a penicillin allergy.

Strep Throat Follow-up

If the rapid strep test is negative after an initial visit to a healthcare professional, a throat culture is generally sent to a lab for further testing. The healthcare professional should contact the patient if the throat culture results are positive for strep throat. In this case, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed.

It is important to report any side effects while taking antibiotics. Any rash, swelling of the lips and tongue, or difficulty breathing may indicate an allergic reaction to the particular antibiotic prescribed. If any of these symptoms develop, discontinue the antibiotic and consult a healthcare professional immediately.

The symptoms of strep throat should generally begin to improve after a few days. If symptoms are not improving, or if symptoms worsen, the patient should contact a healthcare professional.

A small number of cases of strep throat may be caused by bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic that you were prescribed. If this is the case, symptoms may not improve and a healthcare professional should prescribe a different type of antibiotic.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2015
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