Strep throat can be contagious for about 2-3 weeks in individuals who are not taking antibiotics. However, individuals who do take antibiotics for strep throat usually are no longer contagious about 24- 48 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.
What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils. It’s caused by a type of bacteria called group A Streptococcus (GAS). It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection, and it can make your throat very sore and scratchy. Strep throat usually needs treatment with antibiotics. With the proper medical care — and plenty of rest and fluids — most kids get back to school and play within a few days.
What can be done to relieve the pain of strep throat?
Your child should:
- Drink soothing liquids, such as warm tea.
- Take a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Aspirin should not be given to children. Aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness, in children and adolescents who have fevers.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Strep Throat?
Symptoms of strep throat include:
- sore throat
- red and swollen tonsils
- painful or swollen neck glands
Not all sore throats are strep-infected throats. Often, kids have a sore throat because of a virus , which will usually clear up without medical treatment.
Kids who do have strep throat might get other symptoms within about 3 days, such as:
- red and white patches in the throat
- trouble swallowing
- a headache
- lower stomach pain
- general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- loss of appetite
Strep Throat Treatment
If you suspect that you have strep throat, you should see your doctor in order to get tested and begin treatment. Penicillin or amoxicillin are typically used to treat strep throat. If you’re allergic to penicillin, other antibiotics can be used.
Antibiotics may help you feel better faster. They can also shorten the amount of time that you’re contagious. Most people are no longer contagious after they’ve taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours. Be sure to finish your entire course of antibiotics, though (unless your doctor tells you otherwise).
In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with your symptoms.
When Should You go to an Omaha Urgent Care for Strep Throat?
Individuals with a sore throat, especially if accompanied by fever or other associated symptoms, should consider consulting a healthcare professional. It is often too difficult to know definitively whether or not strep throat is present without a professional evaluation. Furthermore, there are other serious causes of sore throat that may require alternative treatments (for example, a peritonsillar abscess). Finally, consider seeking medical advice if a person has been treated for strep throat and has not improved within 4 to 5 days.
If a person has a sore throat or if they have been diagnosed with strep throat, and have any of the following signs or symptoms, they should immediately seek care in a hospital’s emergency department:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty or inability to swallow food or liquid
- Unable to open the mouth
- Unable to swallow saliva, or drooling
- Severe throat pain
- Making noises during breathing
- Bleeding in the throat
- Swelling or redness of the neck
Although some of these signs and symptoms may be related to a strep throat infection, they can also be indicators of other emergent conditions such as peritonsillar abscess, epiglottitis, tracheitis, or retropharyngeal abscess.
If you receive antibiotic treatment for your strep throat, your illness may only last for one to three days. If left untreated, recovery will take longer, and your risk for developing complications will increase. Additionally, without treatment, you can still be contagious for several weeks, even after you stop feeling sick.
Preventing the Spread
- Clean your hands properly and regularly. Be sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and warm water.
- Clean surfaces in your house if you, or someone in your house, has strep throat. Bacteria can survive for short periods of time on household items, such as doorknobs and tabletops.
- If you live with or care for someone with strep throat, be sure to wash your hands frequently. Also avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid contact with anyone who has strep throat until they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.
- Don’t share food, drinks, or eating utensils with others. Additionally, avoid sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes.
- If you have strep, be sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Carry disposable tissues with you. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into the crook of your elbow instead of into your hand.
- If you have strep throat, be aware that you’re contagious as long as you have symptoms, and you should stay home from work or school. Once you start taking antibiotics, you should stay home until you’ve been on them for at least 24 hours.
Urgent Care Omaha Walk-In Clinics and Bellevue, NE | Strep Throat Treatment
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