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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What Are The Treatments For Strep Throat
Strep throat, caused by bacteria, is one type of sore throat that can be treated. It isn’t handled in the same way as sore throats caused by colds and other viruses, so your doctor will likely do whatâs called a ârapid strep testâ to be sure it’s strep
If the test is positive , theyâll probably recommend:
- Antibiotics to kill the bacteria thatâs causing it
- Rest to help you get better faster
- Over-the-counter medicines and home remedies to ease symptoms
What Are The Risks Of Taking Antibiotics For Sore Throat
Antibiotics may cause side effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and skin rashes.
Besides side effects, there are other good reasons not to use antibiotics unless you really need them.
- Antibiotics cost money.
- You will probably have to see the doctor to get a prescription. This costs you time.
- If you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, they may not work when you do need them. Each time you take antibiotics, you are more likely to carry some bacteria that were not killed by the medicine. Over time, these bacteria get tougher and can cause longer and more serious infections. To treat them, you may need different, stronger, and more costly antibiotics.
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What Are The Most Common Strep Throat Symptoms
The telltale signs of strep throat are you guessed it a very sore throat that is most often paired with a fever. In general, people with strep dont exhibit generic cold symptoms like coughs, runny noses, nasal congestion, or sneezing, says Moore. If you are experiencing these types of symptoms with the absence of a fever, chances are you have a viral infection, and you dont need to be tested for strep.
While throat pain and fever are the most common and notable symptoms of strep throat, other signs of this bacterial infection may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
How Do I Know If My Strep Throat Is Viral Or Bacterial
Strep throats are bacterial infections caused by Streptococcus bacteria. However, viral infections can also cause a sore throat.
To find out whether your sore throat is a sign of viral or bacterial infection, youll need to pay attention to your symptoms and the length of your sore throat.
- A common cold is a viral infection with a sore throat that lasts 24-48 hours.
- Strep throat is a bacterial infection with a sore throat that lasts up to 5 days.
- Tonsillitis is a bacterial infection with a sore throat that lasts 4-10 days.
Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial infections. If youre not sure whether your infection is viral or bacterial, your doctor will be able to diagnose your infection and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
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Symptoms Of Strep Throat Infection
- Pain, discomfort or raw feeling of the throat
- Pain is made worse when swallows
- Children less than 2 years of age usually can’t complain about a sore throat. A young child who does not want favorite foods may have a sore throat. They may also start to cry during feedings.
- Other symptoms include sore throat, fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
- Cough, hoarseness, red eyes, and runny nose are not seen with Strep throat. These symptoms point more to a viral cause.
- Scarlet fever rash is highly suggestive of Strep throat.
- If you look at the throat with a light, it will be bright red. The tonsil will be red and swollen, often covered with pus.
- Peak age: 5 to 15 years old. Not common under 2 years old unless sibling has Strep.
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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When Should I See My Doctor About A Sore Throat
In general, you should see a healthcare provider if:
You have a fever. You should see a healthcare provider if you have a sore throat and fever to make sure you dont have strep throat. This is especially important for children and teens.
You think you could have COVID-19. Sore throat is a common symptom of COVID-19 illness.
Your sore throat is getting worse. A sore throat from a virus should go away within a few days. It also shouldnt get worse over time. If your sore throat isnt getting better after 2 to 3 days you should see a healthcare provider even if home remedies are giving you temporary relief. You could have a sore throat for a different reason.
You have concerning symptoms. This includes neck swelling, trouble swallowing, voice changes, trouble speaking, or pain that makes it hard to move your neck.
How To Prevent Strep Throat
Theres no vaccine available to prevent strep throat. One of the most effective ways to help avoid infection is regularly washing your hands. If you cant access soap and water, you can use a hand sanitizer instead.
Dont share drinks or food with someone who has strep throat. If someone in your home has strep throat, dont share their towels, sheets, or pillowcases. Wash dishes and laundry in water thats hot and soapy.
Parents of children with strep throat can help stop the spread to other family members by:
- keeping the childs eating and drinking dishes separate
- not sharing food, drinks, napkins, cloths, or linens between the child and others
- having the child cover all coughs and sneezes
- enforcing regular hand washing among everyone in the household
- replacing the childs toothbrush after the course of antibiotics ends
If you have strep throat, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue rather than into your hand. Be sure to wash your hands frequently. Explore more ways to prevent strep throat.
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Key Points To Remember
- People often think antibiotics will cure their sore throat. But most sore throats are caused by a virus, such as a cold. Antibiotics won’t work for sore throats caused by a virus.
- Most of the time, sore throats go away on their own. It may take a few days or up to a week, depending on the cause.
- To relieve the pain from a sore throat, you can take over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or you can try lozenges or nasal sprays. Drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to shorten the time you are able to spread strep throatwhich is caused by bacteriato others. Antibiotics will help prevent a serious but rare problem called rheumatic fever.
- Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful and costly. And the medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it. This is called antibiotic resistance.
How Do I Know If My Child Has Strep Throat
Visit your healthcare provider if the symptoms suggest strep throat. Your child will be examined and may be given a strep test . Viral illnesses can have the same symptoms as strep throat. This is why it’s important that a throat swab be done to confirm the presence of the Strep bacteria in the throat.
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What Causes A Sore Throat
The medical term for a sore throat is pharyngitis. Pharyngitis can be caused by germs like viruses and bacteria. Viruses like the ones that cause the common cold are the most common cause of sore throat.
Some of these viruses include:
Vocal strain from singing or yelling too much
Antibiotics wont help with most of these causes. In fact, they only help when sore throats are caused by bacteria. Taking antibiotics for a sore throat that isnt caused by bacteria wont help you feel better. Taking unnecessary antibiotics also puts you at risk for side effects related to antibiotics and contributes to antibiotic resistance.
Several bacteria cause pharyngitis. But group A streptococcus is the most common, and its the most significant bacterial cause of sore throat. A sore throat from group A streptococcus is commonly called strep throat. People who have strep throat need to take antibiotics to prevent complications from group A strep infection. Strep throat is usually treated with the antibiotic amoxicillin.
How To Know When Antibiotics Are Necessary
Strep throat is common in children because its easily spread through a sneeze, cough, or sharing food, among other ways. Watch out for these symptoms:
- Sore throat that causes pain when swallowing
- Swollen tonsils with pus
- Absence of cough
- Swollen lymph nodes
Some children may feel nauseated, have a headache or a stomachache, or vomit. A number of children with these symptoms may have scarlet fever, a fever accompanied by a rash.
Doctors have to be selective about testing for strep throat, says Shulman. Strep throat is not diagnosed just by symptoms: There are two tests used to confirm it. The doctor or medical professional takes a throat swab, called a rapid strep test, or a throat culture. If the test comes back positive for the bacteria, then the doctor will usually prescribe an antibiotic.
But strep throat is a self-limited disease that will go away on its own, says Shulman. Antibiotics are not prescribed to treat strep itself, but to prevent serious complications, such as rheumatic fever. Also, after the initial 24 hours of taking antibiotics, people can go back to work or school because theyre not considered contagious anymore, though their symptoms may take a little longer to subside.
Patients should actually ask if they really need to take an antibiotic, says Waldetoft. Over here we are very concerned with antibiotic resistance and try to use narrow spectrum antibiotics whenever we can.
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Do Children With Strep Throat Need Antibiotics
Your child will need a course of antibiotics if diagnosed with strep throat. Strep can resolve on its own, but it can lead to complications if left untreated.
If your child is exceptionally uncomfortable, ask your doctor which over-the-counter pain medications are suitable for your child to take along with the antibiotics. Additionally, make sure your child stays well-hydrated and well-rested.
Pain And Fever Without A Cough Are Common Signs And Symptoms
In general, strep throat is a mild infection, but it can be very painful. The most common symptoms of strep throat include:
- Sore throat that can start very quickly
- Pain when swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
Other symptoms may include a headache, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting especially in children. Someone with strep throat may also have a rash when this happens it is known as scarlet fever .
The following symptoms suggest a virus is the cause of the illness instead of strep throat:
A sore throat that starts quickly, pain with swallowing, and fever are some of the common signs and symptoms of strep throat.
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Symptoms Of Sore Throat
A sore throat can make it painful to swallow. A sore throat can also feel dry and scratchy. Sore throat can be a symptom of strep throat, the common cold, allergies, or other upper respiratory tract illness.
The following symptoms suggest a virus is the cause of the illness instead of the bacteria called group A strep:
- Joint swelling and pain
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Follow up with a doctor if symptoms do not improve within a few days, get worse, or if you or your child have recurrent sore throats.
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Urine is pink or tea color
- Taking antibiotic more than 24 hours, and sore throat pain is severe. The pain is not better 2 hours after taking pain medicines.
- Taking antibiotic more than 48 hours and fever still there or comes back
- Taking antibiotic more than 3 days and other Strep symptoms not better
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
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What Is The Difference Between Strep Throat And A Sore Throat
Sore throat describes the symptoms of having a painful throat. Strep throat means that the sore throat is caused by a particular bacteria, group A streptococcus. While most causes of sore throat will go away on their own, strep throat is treated with antibiotics to prevent complications like rheumatic fever.
Can Strep Throat Be Prevented
The following suggestions may help you prevent the spread of your strep infection to others:
- Avoid close contact with other people until you have been taking the antibiotic for at least 24 hours and you feel well.
- Use tissues when you cough and dispose of them carefully.
- Hand washing is the best method of prevention. Wash your hands before you touch food, dishes, glasses, silverware, napkins, etc.
- Wash your hands after you cough and before you touch certain things, like food, dishes, glasses, silverware or napkins.
- Use paper cups, or separate cups, and paper towels in bathrooms instead of shared drinking cups and hand towels.
- Do not share food and eating utensils with others.
- Do not prepare food for others if you have strep throat.
People with strep throat should not go to childcare, preschool, school or work until they are no longer contagious.
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How Do People Get Strep Throat
Strep throat is spread when healthy people come into contact with someone who has it. The bacteria can spread to you when a person with strep throat sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose and you’re nearby, or if you share the same forks, spoons, or straws.
If you get strep throat, you’ll start to feel sick within 5 days after you were around the person who gave it to you.
Living With Strep Throat
Strep throat is an infection that typically comes and goes, especially when youre younger. If you have recurring strep throat, it could be that someone in your family is a carrier of strep. Carriers have the strep bacteria in their throats, but it does not make them sick. Treating carriers can help prevent the spread of strep.
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How Is Strep Throat Diagnosed
Your doctor may use a test called the rapid strep test to diagnose strep throat. For this test, the doctor uses a long cotton swab to take some of the fluid or mucus from the back of your throat. The results of this test can be ready in less than 15 minutes.
Your doctor may also do a culture of your mucus. If so, he or she will send a sample of your mucus to a laboratory. This test is called a throat culture. It can take up to 2 days to learn the results of a strep culture.
The rapid strep test and the culture can tell your doctor if you have strep throat. If something else is causing your sore throat, these tests do not tell what it is.
A Simple Test Gives Fast Results
A doctor will determine what type of illness you have by asking about symptoms and doing a physical exam. If they think you might have strep throat, they will swab your throat to test for strep throat. There are two types of tests for strep throat: a rapid strep test and throat culture.
A rapid strep test involves swabbing the throat and running a test on the swab. The test quickly shows if group A strep is causing the illness. If the test is positive, doctors can prescribe antibiotics. If the test is negative, but a doctor still suspects strep throat, then the doctor can take a throat culture swab. A throat culture takes time to see if group A strep bacteria grow from the swab. While it takes more time, a throat culture sometimes finds infections that the rapid strep test misses. Culture is important to use in children and teens since they can get rheumatic fever from an untreated strep throat infection. For adults, it is usually not necessary to do a throat culture following a negative rapid strep test. Adults are generally not at risk of getting rheumatic fever following a strep throat infection.
Someone with strep throat should start feeling better in just a day or two after starting antibiotics. Call the doctor if you or your child are not feeling better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours.
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