When Does A Doctor Recommend Taking Antibiotics For A Sore Throat
If you have a bad sore throat and your doctor has made a strep throat diagnosis, they may prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin to help you get well fast. Taking antibiotics can decrease the duration and severity of your symptoms. It can also prevent the bacterial infection from spreading. Antibiotics are also prescribed to prevent serious but rare problems like rheumatic fever.
Do You Need Antibiotics To Cure Strep Throat
Can the body fight off strep throat itself or are antibiotics necessary?
This may sound strange, but my answer is yes to both. This is not really an either/or kind of question.
In most cases, the bodys immune system will indeed fight off strep throat, which is a throat infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. In fact, the fever that often accompanies strep throat is part of your bodys immune response. Antibiotics kill off an infection, too, but they work faster.
Antibiotics are advised because they reduce the risks of developing a potentially serious complication from strep throat. Possible complications include ear and sinus infections, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, meningitis and kidney problems. Strep throat is also contagious, so if you can reduce the duration of the infection, you reduce the time that it is transmissible.
Because of antibiotic side effects and the increasing problem of drug-resistant bacteria, you are wise to be cautious about using antibiotics if they are not necessary. In my opinion, strep throat is a prudent use of antibiotics, but the choice is up to you and your doctor.
Treating Recurring Strep Throat
Though the research noting the cause of recurring strep throat might be the first step toward a vaccine, a cure is well in the future.
For now, a course of antibiotics is usually an effective treatment for strep throat. An article in Current Treatment Options in Pediatrics explains that, though the situation is far from ideal,sufferers of recurring strep throat often develop immunity to the infection over time. After a few years, the number of episodes they experience might decrease.
A physician or pediatrician might recommend a long-term course of antibiotics to prevent recurrent infections until the end of the school year, for example.
And then theres the question of having a tonsillectomyor not to prevent strep throat from recurring. Research published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics found that removing the tonsils of children did. But there was limited success over the long-term. Depending on your family situation, it still might be an option to discuss with your doctor.
The important thing is getting treatment asap as untreated strep throat can develop into more serious conditions. And it’s essential to tell your doctor if your strep throat symptoms dont improve after taking all the antibiotics prescribed.
Does Strep Throat Need Antibiotics
Yes, because strep throat is a bacterial infection, it must be treated with antibiotics. When a doctor diagnoses strep throat, antibiotic treatment is typically started immediately to decrease the severity of symptoms, contagious spread, and the development of serious complications such as acute rheumatic fever.
While strep throat generally goes away on its own, if left untreated by antibiotics, strep throat can lead to serious inflammatory complications such as:
- Kidney inflammation
- Rheumatic fever
- PRA or poststreptococcal arthritis, an inflammation of the joints
For children, there may also be the risk of contracting pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder, or PANDAS. This can result in many physical and psychiatric symptoms such as emotional regression, tics, sensitivity to light and sound, hyperactivity, and memory problems.
Additionally, a strep carrier that does not receive antibiotic treatment will continue to be contagious and can spread the infection to others. Antibiotics are necessary to alleviate these risks.
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take antibiotics for a sore throat
Reasons not to take antibiotics for a sore throat
I want to take medicine even if theres only a chance it will help me get well faster.
I may not want to take medicine if it wont help me get well faster.
Im worried about my sore throat turning into an ear infection or sinus infection.
Im not worried about my sore throat turning into an ear infection or sinus infection.
Im not worried about the risk of taking antibiotics too often.
Im worried about the risks of taking antibiotics too often.
Ive had a sore throat for more than a week, and its not getting better.
Ive had a sore throat for just a few days.
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Is Strep Throat Overmedicated
Sounds like the idea of not administering antibiotics for strep throat may not be as crazy as it first sounds. Are doctors overmedicating strep throat just like they overmedicate ear infections, colds and sinus/respiratory infections?
A round of antibiotics has the potential to cause permanent damage to the gut flora. This, in turn, has a lifelong impact on overall immunity to both chronic and acute illness. Skipping those antibiotic pills altogether may prove in the long run to be the smartest approach of all.
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What Is A Sore Throat
Sore throats can be painful and annoying. But most of the time they go away on their own. It may take a few days or up to a week, depending on the cause.
Most sore throats are caused by a virus, such as a cold. A bacterial infection can also cause a sore throat.
If you have a sudden, severe sore throat without coughing, sneezing, or other cold symptoms, you could have strep throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils. About 1 out of 10 sore throats in adults is caused by strep throat. This means that 9 out of 10 sore throats aren’t strep.
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Are Strep Throats Contagious
Yes, Strep throats are contagious, and the bacteria are easily transmitted and spread by coughing or sneezing or after coming into contact with infected droplets, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Transmission of bacteria can also occur via contact with people with Scarlet fever, or other group A skin infections.
Without treatment, people with Strep throat can pass on the bacteria to others for one to two weeks after symptoms appear. The best way to prevent infection is to wash your hands often and always before eating or after being in contact with an infected person. Do not share utensils, linen, or personal items. People with Strep throat or scarlet fever should stay home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics or until they feel well enough to return to school or work.
Get Antibiotics For Strep Throat Online
The first step in treatment for strep throat is always consulting your doctor or nurse practitioner. With the advent of telehealth, it has become easier than ever to receive a diagnosis and treatment without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Those who are experiencing any indication of strep throat can simply make an appointment with their doctor online and describe their symptoms. The doctor will ask a few questions regarding symptom severity and duration of illness, and then can make a proper diagnosis and write a prescription at just a fraction of the cost of an in-person office visit.
Once your medical professional has decided which strep throat antibiotic is right for you, they will then send a prescription for penicillin to your chosen pharmacy.
With our sister site PlushCare, you can speak to a doctor, acquire a prescription, then pick it up from your local pharmacy, all within an hour or two. Bacterial infections require immediate treatment to ensure that symptoms improve quickly and avoid complications.
Not only does this process with PlushCare avoid the headache of having to visit a doctorâs office while suffering from the symptoms of strep throat, but more importantly, it prevents the spread of infection to others in the community.
Click here to book an appointment with a doctor.
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Can I Prevent Strep Throat
If someone in your house has strep throat, you might get it. But following these tips can help protect you:
- Make sure the person with strep throat covers his or her mouth when sneezing and coughing.
- Dont handle used tissues or other germy items.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating.
- Wash dishes, drinking glasses, knives, forks, and spoons in hot, soapy water.
- Keep sores and cuts clean because strep can get in your skin and cause problems, too.
Strep throat is no fun, but after feeling sick for 2 or 3 days, most kids start getting back to normal. In other words, they feel less streppy and more peppy!
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Conventional doctors today do a great job of scaring people out of their minds about the possibility of rheumatic fever/heart damage from allowing the body to deal with a strep throat infection unmedicated. However, the truth is, the risk of complications from strep throat is very small for healthy people who have no issues with their immune system. Even WebMD used to state that strep throat will go away on its own with or without treatment in 3-7 days.
Ive written before about the one and only case of strep throat I ever had. It occurred when I was 15 and I am ever so grateful my MD father loved me enough to let me fight through it and win without antibiotics. The result? Ive never ever gotten strep throat again despite repeated exposures. One exposure was in very close quarters a college roommate had strep throat and I still didnt contract it! Whats even more interesting is that none of my children have ever had strep either despite multiple exposures from friends and classmates.
I obviously built up a strong resistance to strep throat at a young age and have been blessed with never having to suffer with it again by allowing my body to fight through it naturally. Its also quite possible I passed on my immunity to my children via breastfeeding, although that is obviously just an educated guess on my part.
For others, the article triggered an aha moment with more than just a few deciding once and for all to stare down the strep throat demon and win!
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How Can You Tell If You Have Strep Throat
The only way to diagnose strep throat is with a throat swab. Your healthcare provider will rub the back of your throat with a medical swab that looks like a long Q-tip. A rapid strep test or a throat culture can look for the streptococcus bacteria on the swab.
But how can you tell if its worth going to get a strep test in the first place? Your symptoms will give you an important clue.
When sore throats are caused by viruses, people usually experience some or all of the following:
Daycare center workers
Healthcare providers who work with children
If you have symptoms that are more consistent with strep throat or if you are at risk of having strep throat because of your age or job you should see a healthcare provider for a strep test. If you arent sure about your symptoms or risk, its better to see a healthcare provider and have a strep test done. This is especially important for children and teens, as they are more likely to develop complications from strep throat.
What Is Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever can develop following a Strep throat infection or scarlet fever. Although rare in the contiguous U.S., the disease is still prevalent in children of Samoan descent living in Hawaii and residents of American Samoa.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever usually show 14 to 28 days after a Strep infection. Because the bacteria trick the body’s immune system into attacking healthy tissues, the disease can affect the heart, joints, skin, and brain.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever include:
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Strep Throat Treatment: Antibiotics And More
While uncomfortable, a sore throat on its own is not always cause for alarm and can often be treated with over-the-counter and home remedies.
But when accompanied by other symptoms, a scratchy, painful throat may be a sign of an infection.
If its strep throat, antibiotics can help, but if its a viral infection, antibiotic treatment not only doesnt work, it could cause unnecessary side effects.
Luckily, doctors can easily test for strep throat and recommend the appropriate treatment to help you feel better quickly.
In this article, Ill cover the causes, symptoms, and risks of strep throat, as well as how healthcare providers diagnose the infection.
Then Ill explain which antibiotics work to treat strep throat, how to prevent the infection, and when to see a doctor about your sore throat.
The Top Things To Remember About Strep Throat
While theres a lot of information out there on strep throat, here are the important things to keep in mind at this time of year and always:
- If you have generic cold symptoms with a sore throat, you probably dont need a strep test a virus is the more likely culprit.
- If you have throat pain, a fever, and not much else, go ahead and get tested.
- Strep tests are easy, fast, inexpensive, and painless.
- Strep throat is easily treated with affordable antibiotics.
- Keep washing those hands!
- Dont depend on the internet for your diagnosis count on experienced urgent care and primary care providers for a convenient, personalized diagnosis you can trust.
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Preventing The Spread Of Infection:
Since Streptococcus bacteria are highly contagious through saliva and nasal secretions, prevention of the spread of strep is similar to viral cold or influenza prevention. This includes hand washing and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Patients should not return to school, day care, or work until they are no longer contagious and have no fever, usually 24 to 48 hours after beginning antibiotics. It is important to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if symptoms disappear, so the infection does not return. If strep throat returns after treatment with antibiotics, there may be close exposure to a strep carrier, a person who carries the Streptococcus bacteria in the throat but has no symptoms of a strep infection. In these cases, it is appropriate to treat the strep carrier to stop recurring infections. Otherwise, strep carriers do not require antibiotics, since they are not at risk of strep infection complications. Streptococcus bacteria can also remain alive on objects such as a toothbrush for several days, so replacing a toothbrush after 24 to 48 hours of antibiotic therapy and thoroughly cleaning orthodontic retainers every day can prevent patients from reinfecting themselves.
Argument #: Antibiotics Reduce Symptomology
The most important thing to recognize is that in the vast majority of patients, strep throat is a self limited disease that will get better in about 7 days with no treatment . The addition of antibiotics provides a modest benefit in terms of symptomology resolution . This benefit, however, is in comparison to placebo, which is not standard care. Supportive therapies including acetaminophen and NSAIDs may affect symptom improvement but there are no good studies on this. Finally, we must not forget about the potential additional side effects associated with antibiotics .
One therapy that has shown remarkable benefits in terms of symptoms is the use of corticosteroids. Hayward et al showed that corticosteroids increased the rate of symptom resolution at 24 hours with an NNT = 4 .
Bottom Line: If we are interested in making the patients symptoms resolve faster, corticosteroids are our best bet. I typically give 10 mg of decadron IM.
Remedies And Treatments For Strep
Once you’re diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to destroy the bacteria that caused the infection. That usually takes 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, these home remedies for strep throat can alleviate your symptoms:
Rest and Sleep
When you’re sick, your body needs rest and sleep to fight the infection. Stay home from work, or if your child is sick, keep them home from school. Strep is easily spread and remains contagious until you’ve taken an antibiotic for 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Drink plenty of water and clear fluids to keep your body hydrated. Keep the throat moist to alleviate pain when swallowing.
Eat Soft and Soothing Food
Soup, applesauce, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, yogurt, or a smoothie are good options. The list is endless, as long as the food is soft and easy to swallow. Cold foods like ice cream or popsicles help soothe your sore throat. Stay away from spicy foods or acidic fruits like oranges.
Turn on a Humidifier
Breathing moist air can relieve discomfort. Cool-mist humidifiers are best, but be sure to clean them daily to prevent mold and bacteria from building up. A nasal saline spray helps too.
Gargle With Salt Water
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of warm water. Take a sip, lift your head back, and gargle the mixture in your throat to relieve pain. Remind your kids to spit out the water instead of swallowing it.
Conventional Strep Throat Treatment
The most common strep throat treatment is antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin. Research suggests that just mentioning a sore throat to a doctor almost guarantees a prescription for antibiotics, even though viral infections cause 85 to 90 percent of sore throats in adults.
Studies show that antibiotics are only somewhat helpful when used for strep throat. They can improve symptoms at 3 to 4 days and cut the length of the illness by about half a day. Antibiotic treatment doesnt seem to affect time off from school or work.
Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also used to relieve the pain related to strep throat.
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