Do You Have Strep Throat? You might have strep throat if you’re dealing with a painful throat, feeling rundown, and even a fever. But how do you know when it’s strep and not a virus? Suppose you have it; what antibiotic is used for strep throat? This article discusses this bacterial infection and how antibiotics treat it.
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is an infection in a person’s throat and tonsils, which are the glands that hang at the back of the mouth. A bacterium called Group A streptococcus is responsible for this condition. Strep throat spreads from person to person with little effort, particularly among family members and those living with each other. While it does affect adults, it’s most common in school-age children.
In rare cases, strep throat can cause rheumatic fever, a disease that can damage a person’s heart valves. Getting the appropriate treatment for strep right away is crucial to ensure this doesn’t happen. With proper care, strep throat usually resolves within ten days.
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What are the symptoms of strep throat?
Symptoms of strep throat may include:
- Sudden sore throat
- Red tonsils dotted with white spots
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen neck glands
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
What causes strep throat?
As previously highlighted, strep throat is a bacterial infection, so it is caused by bacteria getting into a person’s body and infecting them.
How does strep throat spread?
Strep throat spreads through close contact with an infected person and sharing personal items with them.
What is a strep test?
A strep throat test looks for Streptococcus bacteria in the throat. This test is also known as a throat culture. To perform the test, a healthcare practitioner may use a cotton swab to wipe the back of your throat. Then they send the swab to a lab. The test is painless, though it might feel odd or make you gag a little, and is very quick. The rapid strep test takes roughly 20 minutes. The patient has strep throat if the test returns positive with the Streptococcus bacteria present. Unfortunately, rapid tests aren’t always available, and the doctor may need to inform you of the results at a later time.
Strep throat Management and Treatment
Doctors cure strep throat with antibiotics. An antibiotic kills the harmful bacteria causing the infection. Physicians may prescribe antibiotics as pills or as a shot. Two of the most commonly used antibiotics to cure strep throat are amoxicillin and penicillin. However, some people are allergic to penicillin, and doctors will use an alternative in those cases.
If your child is sick with strep throat, the doctor may prescribe the antibiotics in liquid form. Patients will usually take the course of antibiotics for ten days. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and never stop taking medicine early. You or your child should finish the medication, even if they or you feel better. The bacteria can still be alive inside the body even if the patient feels okay.
Strep Throat and Antibiotics
While many sore throats stem from viruses, which you can’t treat or cure with medicine, strep throat results from bacteria. That means you must treat them with an antibiotic. So, it is essential to know what antibiotic is used for strep throat. Viruses heal independently and won’t respond to antibiotics or other drugs. However, to treat infections caused by bacteria, antibiotics are necessary.
Additionally, you should never have medicines left over from an earlier illness. It’s essential to take the entire regimen of medication. And don’t give leftover medicine to anyone else, especially children. Leftover antibiotics can cause serious side effects and make strep throat harder to treat.
What Antibiotic is Used for Strep Throat?
Health care professionals consider penicillin or amoxicillin the best first-line treatments for strep throat. According to the CDC, “There has never been a report of […] strep that is resistant to penicillin.” For people with a penicillin allergy, doctors will recommend either a narrow-spectrum cephalosporin, clindamycin, Azithromycin, or clarithromycin.
Antibiotic treatment for strep throat can:
- Reduce the severity and length of strep throat symptoms
- Lower the risk of passing it on to family, friends, and close contacts
- Stop rheumatic fever and other complications from developing
Are Strep Throats Contagious?
As previously discussed, strep throat is contagious, particularly among people who live together or interact often. The bacteria are easily spread by coughing or sneezing. You can also spread it by getting infected droplets on your mouth, nose, or eyes. Also, you may get strep throat through contact with someone with Scarlet Fever or another group A skin infection.
Without treatment, those with strep can pass on the disease to others for one to two weeks after symptoms occur. Wash your hands thoroughly frequently and always before eating or after being in contact with a sick person to prevent infection. You’ll also want to avoid sharing utensils, linens, or personal items. People with strep throat or scarlet fever should stay home for a minimum of 24 hours following the start of their antibiotics. After that, they should remain home until they feel well enough to return to regular activities.
Strep Throat Treatment Online
If you need treatment for strep, you may be able to use online health counseling or telehealth services to receive the diagnosis and medications you need. Many will also accept your health insurance and cover it as a part of your typical sick visits. Be sure always to use a reputable online health provider like DrAlexa.
Are there home remedies for strep throat?
In most cases, antibiotics quickly eliminate strep throat bacteria. However, while you’re taking your prescribed medications, these simple tips can help relieve some symptoms of strep throat:
Get plenty of rest: Sleep is how your body can fight off the disease. If you have strep throat, get all the rest you can. If your child is sick, keep them at home until there’s no sign of fever, they’ve used their antibiotic for at least 24 hours, and they feel well enough to return.
Drink plenty of water: A lubricated throat doesn’t hurt as much. It can make swallowing easier and prevents dehydration.
Eat soft foods: Eat foods you can swallow easily. Options like broths, soups, applesauce, mashed potatoes, soft fruits, yogurt, and soft-cooked eggs are great. You can eat puree foods as well. Cold foods like frozen yogurt, fruit pops, or even ice cream can be soothing. Limiting spicy or acidic foods like orange juice will also help reduce discomfort.
Gargle with salt water: For older children and adults, gargling multiple times daily eases throat pain. Pour 1/4 teaspoon of table salt into eight ounces of warm water. Just be sure to spit out the liquid when you’re done.
Honey: You can also use honey to soothe sore throats. However, this is only for those at least 12 months and older.
Get a humidifier: Keeping the air moist can help make breathing feel better. Use a cool-mist humidifier and clean it daily so it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria or mold. Saline nasal sprays can also keep mucous membranes moist.
Stave off irritants: Cigarette smoke and fumes from cleaning products or paint can irritate the throat and lungs and even increase the likelihood of tonsillitis.
How to Protect Yourself and Others from Strep Throat
A couple of factors can increase your likelihood of contracting strep throat:
Age: Strep throat occurs most frequently in school-age children and those with children.
Time of year: Like a cold or the flu, strep throat tends to be most common in winter and early spring. It does so because people tend to gather in large groups in close contact during these months and strep bacteria flourish in these conditions.
To prevent strep infection:
Wash your hands: Correct hand-washing is the best way to prevent nearly all infections and transmittable illnesses. It’s crucial to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. This ensures you kill any germs on your hands and prevent spreading or contracting illnesses. Teach your kids to wash their hands correctly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible.
Cover your mouth: Always cover your mouth with an elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough. Teach your children to do the same.
Don’t share items: Use only your drinking glass or eating utensils. Wash your dishes and personal items in hot, soapy water or a dishwasher.
Antibiotics help keep strep throat from spreading to others.
Those with strep throat should remain at home and avoid going to work, school, or daycare until they don’t have a fever and have taken antibiotics for at least 12 hours. You’ll also want to take the prescription precisely as directed. Don’t stop taking your antibiotics, even if you or your child feel better unless directed by your physician. You can find more information on antibiotics on CDC’s Antibiotic Do’s & Don’ts Page.
When to See a Doctor
Call your physician if you or your child exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- A sore throat with tender, swollen lymph glands
- A sore throat that doesn’t go away within 48 hours
- A fever
- A sore throat with a rash
- Problems breathing or swallowing
If your doctor has diagnosed you with strep and you don’t feel better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
First, it’s vital to note that some people are strep throat carriers. Carriers can have a positive test if they get a sore throat caused by a virus. In these cases, knowing what caused the sore throat can be difficult. For example, suppose someone continues to have a sore throat after taking the right antibiotics. In that case, they may be strep carriers and have a viral throat infection. Talk to a doctor if you think you or your child are strep throat carriers.
Bactrim isn’t very effective when treating strep throat. Physicians typically discourage this drug combination because of its many adverse effects. Bactrim treats bacteria that cause stomach infections, such as Shigella and salmonella. And because of the several moderate side effects, it can cause, it’s not usually prescribed.
Prescriptions of choice for Streptococcal infection are penicillin drugs like Amoxycillin and Macrolide drugs like Azithromycin.
While antibiotics are the only thing that will cure your sickness, you can do some things to ease the symptoms, including:
Gargle with 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in eight ounces of warm water.
Get your rest, drink fluids, eat soft foods, and take pain relievers, including ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to ease symptoms.
Apply caution when administering aspirin to children or teenagers. Health professionals have approved aspirin for use in children older than three. Still, those recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms shouldn’t use it. It’s because aspirin is associated with Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition in such children.
Antibiotics won’t make your strep throat worse before it gets better. However, the typical course of the infection can worsen before the antibiotics have had enough time to treat the condition. It takes roughly 24–48 hours for enough bacterial elimination to occur. In the meantime, the inflammation caused by bacteria and symptoms of strep throat may worsen. Generally, the infection should begin to lessen within 24–48 hours of starting your prescribed antibiotic.
If you don’t notice any improvement after 48 hours, you may be dealing with a viral infection. However, most physicians typically don’t treat strep throat without a confirmed test. So if your symptoms haven’t improved, consult your doctor right away.
This article has hopefully given you more information about strep throat and whether or not you should do a test. However, suppose you’re looking for an online medical service to assist you with your diagnosis and treatment of strep throat. In that case, DrAlexa is here to help you.
At DrAlexa, we offer a simple and convenient way for you to consult with professional healthcare providers from the comfort of your home. You can contact our expert physicians at 69-498-6868 or email email@example.com, and they will help you get better and take control of your health. You can also fill out our online form here.
If you have any questions about treatment, insurance, or how our telemedicine services work, don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to helping you.