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Strep Throat

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. This common condition is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat can affect children and adults of all ages. However, it’s especially common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Sneezing and coughing can spread the infection from one person to another.

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Pictures

Pictures of strep throat

Symptoms

Symptoms of strep throat

The severity of strep throat can vary from person-to-person. Some people experience mild symptoms like a sore throat, whereas other people have more severe symptoms including fever and difficulty swallowing. The common symptoms of strep throat include:

The symptoms of strep throat typically develop within five days of exposure to the bacteria.

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Your Doctor

When to see your doctor

Not all sore throats are a result of a strep infection. Other illnesses can cause a sore throat, too. This includes:

Sore throats caused by other medical conditions usually improve on their own with or without treatment in a few days.

Call your doctor if you experience:

  • a sore throat that lasts longer than two days
  • a sore throat with white patches
  • dark, red splotches or spots on the tonsils or the top of the mouth
  • a sore throat with a fine, sandpaper-like pink rash on the skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing

Finding a doctor for strep throat

Looking for doctors with the most experience treating strep throat? Use the doctor search tool below, powered by our partner Amino. You can find the most experienced doctors, filtered by your insurance, location, and other preferences. Amino can also help book your appointment for free.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing strep throat

If you complain of a persistent sore throat, your doctor will examine your throat and check for signs of inflammation. Your doctor may also check your neck for swollen lymph nodes and ask about other symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have strep throat, they may do a rapid strep test in the office.

This test determines whether your sore throat is caused by a strep infection or another type of bacteria or germ. Your doctor swabs the back of your throat with a long cotton swab, collecting a sample. Your doctor will then send the sample to the lab to look for signs of bacteria.

Results are available in about five minutes. If your rapid strep test is negative but your doctor thinks that you have strep throat, they can send your sample to an outside lab for additional testing. These results are available within a few days.

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Treatments

Treating strep throat

Antibiotics

If you’re diagnosed with strep throat, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. These medications inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections. Several types of antibiotics are available. However, penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common medications given for a strep infection.

It’s important that you finish your antibiotic treatment course to kill the infection completely. Some people stop taking their medication when symptoms improve, which can trigger a relapse. If this happens, the symptoms can return.

At-home care

In addition to antibiotics, there are at-home treatments to improve the symptoms of strep throat. These remedies include:

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Outlook

Outlook and potential complications of strep throat

If strep throat is treated, the symptoms will improve within one week. But if it’s left untreated, strep throat can cause serious complications. These complications include:

To reduce your risk of complications, contact your doctor if your strep throat symptoms don’t improve within 48 hours of taking an antibiotic. They may need to prescribe a different antibiotic to fight the infection.

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