Does Strep Throat Go Away on Its Own?

Reviewed on 1/20/2022
A medical provider collecting a swab sample
Strep throat is a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection. Strep throat usually goes away on its own within a week, whether treated with antibiotics or not.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is a common cause of sore throat.

Antibiotics are used to treat strep throat.

  • Penicillin or amoxicillin are first-line choices 
  • Other antibiotics may be used for people allergic to penicillin
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, take the entire dose as prescribed even if you feel better before you have finished all the medication

Strep throat usually goes away on its own within a week with or without antibiotic treatment, but without antibiotics, people may still be contagious for two to three weeks and are at a higher risk for complications.

If a person tests positive for strep throat but has no symptoms (is a “carrier”) treatment is often not needed. 

What Are Symptoms of Strep Throat?

Symptoms of strep throat often come on quickly and may include:

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep) which live in the nose and throat and can be contagious. When a person infected with strep coughs or sneezes, they release respiratory droplets with the bacteria into the air. 

Strep can be transmitted when people:

  • Inhale the respiratory droplets
  • Touch something with droplets on it and then touch their mouth or nose
  • Share glasses, plates, or utensils with an infected person
  • Touch sores on the skin caused by group A strep (impetigo)
  • Eat improperly handled food (rare)

How Is Strep Throat Diagnosed?

Tests used to diagnose strep throat include:

  • A rapid strep test
    • A swab is taken of the throat 
    • Results are usually available in about 15 minutes
  • Throat culture
    • A throat culture swab can take 2-3 days to yield results but is more accurate than a rapid strep test


Just about any painful sore throat is caused by strep. See Answer

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Reviewed on 1/20/2022
Image Source: iStock Images