- 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:
- Sore throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen tonsils
- Swollen uvula
- Red throat
- White patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils, back of the throat, and tongue
- Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Whitish, furry film on the tongue
- Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
- Stomach pain
- Rash (scarlet fever)
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
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