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Strep Throat

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

What is strep throat?

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

What are the signs and symptoms of strep throat?

  • Sore, red, and swollen throat
  • Fever and headache
  • Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or vomiting
  • White or yellow patches or blisters in the back of your throat
  • Tender, swollen lumps on the sides of your neck or jaw
  • Throat pain when you swallow

How is strep throat diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will swab the back of your throat to test for strep bacteria. You may get the results in minutes or the swab may be sent to a lab for further tests.

How is strep throat treated?

You will need antibiotic medicine to treat your strep throat. You should feel better within 2 to 3 days after you start antibiotics. You may return to work or school 24 hours after you start antibiotics.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage my 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 1 cup 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.

How do I 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.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.

When should I seek immediate care?

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

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

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