Symptoms of strep throat usually go away within one to three days after starting antibiotic treatment.
Strep throat also usually resolves 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.
What Are Symptoms of Strep Throat?
Symptoms of strep throat often come on quickly and may include:
- Sore throat
- Red throat
- White patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils, back of the throat, and tongue
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen tonsils
- Swollen uvula
- Whitish, furry film on the tongue
- Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
- Stomach pain
- Rash (scarlet fever)
What Causes Strep Throat?
Strep throat is caused group A Streptococcus (group A strep) bacterium that live in the nose and throat. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release respiratory droplets with strep bacteria into the air.
Strep may 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?
When you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of strep throat, you will need to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Strep throat is diagnosed with:
- A rapid strep test
- Throat culture
What Is the Treatment for Strep Throat?
Because strep throat is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the infection.
- 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
If a person tests positive for strep throat but has no symptoms (is a “carrier”) treatment is typically not needed.
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