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.
Argument #: Antibiotics Reduce The Rate Of Suppurative Complications
There are a number of potential complications associated with strep throat including acute otitis media , sinusitis and peritonsilar abscess .
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A more recent study demonstrated an overall suppurative complication rate of 1.3% and no difference in patients who received antibiotics versus those that did not .
Bottom Line: It appears that we would have to treat 100s of patients to prevent one PTA an easily treatable entity.
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.
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How Do You Get Strep Throat
When someone with strep throat coughs or sneezes, it spreads respiratory droplets containing the bacteria. If droplets get on your hands and then you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you can end up with strep throat.
If you or someone in your family has strep throat, wash your hands frequently, and dont share glasses, plates or eating utensils. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
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.
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Key Points About Strep Throat
For people at higher risk of rheumatic fever, it is very important that a sore throat is always checked early by a nurse or GP. This is because untreated strep throat can cause rheumatic fever and heart damage for life.
You are at higher risk of rheumatic fever if:
Or if you have 2 or more of the following:
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 Are The Symptoms For Strep Throat
Here are the most common symptoms. You may have all or most of the symptoms or just a few:
The strep throat clue I always look for is a sore throat with a fever above 100.4 F but with little to no coughing. At the same time, sore throats caused by viruses or other bacteria can mimic these symptoms, so its important to follow up with your provider if you have concerns.
Here is the infographic comparing symptoms of strep throat or a viral sore throat in an alternative format.
When To See A Doctor
Speak with a provider as soon as you or your child are experiencing any symptoms of strep throat.
If your provider confirms the diagnosis, they can prescribe the right antibiotic prescription to clear the infection.
If youre still feeling unwell two days after starting the medication, let your provider know.
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Home Remedies For Strep Throat
In addition to getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water, you can try the following home remedies, which are aimed at killing the bacteria that causes strep throat. Keep in mind, however, the only way to cure strep throat is with antibiotics.
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.
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Related Resources For Strep Throat
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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
Is Strep Throat Contagious
Strep throat is contagious for about 2-3 weeks in individuals who do not take antibiotics. However, individuals who take antibiotics for strep throat usually are no longer contagious about 24 hours after initiating antibiotic therapy. The bacteria that cause strep throat can be transmitted person-to-person by direct contact, especially from mucus droplets from the mouth and indirect contact, such as kissing and sharing utensils or drinking cups.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Strep Throat
Generally, Strep sore throats tend to be very painful and symptoms persist for a lot longer than sore throats due to another cause. Swallowing may be particularly difficult and painful. Symptoms of a Strep throat may include:
- Sudden onset of sore throat
- Very red and swollen-looking tonsils and back of the throat
- Sometimes streaks of pus or red spots may appear on the roof of the mouth
- A headache
- Swollen and tender glands in the neck.
Children are more likely to feel sick and vomit.
People with a Strep throat do NOT typically have a cough, runny nose, hoarseness, mouth ulcers, or conjunctivitis. If these symptoms occur there is more likely to be a viral cause for the sore throat.
Some people are susceptible to the toxins produced by the S. pyrogenes bacteria and develop a bright red rash that feels like sandpaper to the touch. A rash caused by S. pyrogenes bacteria is known as Scarlet Fever . Although it usually follows a sore throat, it may also occur after school sores .
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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How Is It Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you some questions to see if you’re at risk for strep throat. If your doctor thinks you might have it, he or she will swab the back of your throat to test for bacteria. Results from a throat culture will be ready in two days. The rapid antigen test provides results the same day.
How Can I Get Better
If you have strep throat, your doctor will give you an antibiotic, a medicine that kills bacteria. To make sure the bacteria go away completely and don’t spread to other parts of your body, you must finish all of the medicine. Your doctor will have you take the pills or liquid for 10 days.
It’s really important to take all 10 days of the medicine to make sure all the bad bacteria are gone. If you don’t, you could get sick all over again.
Your mom or dad may give you acetaminophen to get rid of aches, pains, and fever. You’ll want to have soothing drinks, like tea and warm chicken soup. Frozen foods like ice cream or popsicles also can help to ease throat pain. Avoid spicy and acidic foods, such as orange juice, because they could hurt your tender throat.
Your doctor will tell you to stay home from school until you have been taking the antibiotic for at least 24 hours. This way, you won’t spread the bacteria to others.
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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.
So You Ask What Would Happen If You Dont Take Antibiotics For A Throat Infection
The answer is fairly simple probably nothing, based on the evidence.
Most throat infections are viral, at least above 90%, and these will be fought off by the bodys immune system. Antibiotics do not help these infections and add to the growing bacterial resistance problem in the world, not to mention the devastation to our microbiome .
Of the infections that are bacterial, Streptococcus A is the main one that we treat. Before antibiotics, people got the infection, their immune system kicked in, and they fought off the bacteria. This would likely be the case for most people today.
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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:
- A fever
- Sore throat that causes pain when swallowing
- Swollen tonsils with pus
- Absence of cough
- Swollen lymph nodes
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.
What Can Be Done To Help Prevent Invasive Group A Streptococcal Infections
The spread of all types of group A streptococcal infections may be reduced by good hand washing, especially after coughing and sneezing, before and after preparing foods and before eating. Persons with sore throats should be seen by a physician who can perform tests to find out whether it is strep throat if so, one should stay home from work, school or daycare for 24 hours or more after taking an antibiotic. All wounds should be kept clean. Wounds should be watched for possible signs of infection which include increasing redness, swelling and pain at the wound site. If these signs occur, especially in a person who also has a fever, consult a doctor immediately.
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Protect Yourself And Others
People can get strep throat more than once. Having strep throat does not protect someone from getting it again in the future. While there is no vaccine to prevent strep throat, there are things people can do to protect themselves and others.
Good Hygiene Helps Prevent Group A Strep Infections
The best way to keep from getting or spreading group A strep is to wash your hands often. This is especially important after coughing or sneezing and before preparing foods or eating. To practice good hygiene, you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Put your used tissue in the waste basket
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands, if you dont have a tissue
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available
You should also wash glasses, utensils, and plates after someone who is sick uses them. These items are safe for others to use once washed.
Wash your hands often to help prevent germs from spreading.
Antibiotics Help Prevent Spreading the Infection to Others
People with strep throat should stay home from work, school, or daycare until they:
- No longer have a fever
- Have taken antibiotics for at least 12 hours
Take the prescription exactly as the doctor says to. Dont stop taking the medicine, even if you or your child feel better, unless the doctor says to stop.