Skip to Content

Strep Throat


Strep throat is a throat infection caused by bacteria. It is easily spread from person to person.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have new symptoms like a bad headache, stiff neck, chest pain, or vomiting.
  • You are drooling because you cannot swallow your spit.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a rash or ear pain.
  • You have green, yellow-brown, or bloody mucus when you cough or blow your nose.
  • You are unable to drink anything.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Antibiotics help treat your strep throat. You should feel better within 2 to 3 days after you start antibiotics.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Use lozenges, ice, soft foods, or popsicles to soothe your throat.
  • Drink juice, milk shakes, or soup if your throat is too sore to eat solid food. Drinking liquids can also help prevent dehydration.
  • Gargle with salt water. Mix ¼ teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water and gargle. This may help reduce swelling in your throat.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage and make your symptoms worse. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Return to work or school

24 hours after you start antibiotic medicine.

Prevent the spread of strep throat:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Do not share food or drinks. Replace your toothbrush after you have taken antibiotics for 24 hours.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Strep Throat (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.