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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:

Penicillin

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.

Cephalosporins

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

Macrolides

This class of antibiotics (which include 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) is recommended in individuals who have a penicillin allergy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/27/2013
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