Strep Throat - Medications
Antibiotics are the treatment of choice
for a confirmed
strep throat infection.
- Antibiotics will reduce the time you are
contagious. You are usually not contagious 24 hours after starting
- Antibiotic treatment for strep throat can also help
prevent some of the rare
complications related either to the strep infection
itself or to the body's
immune response to the infection. Complications of
strep throat are rare but can occur, especially if strep throat is not properly
- Antibiotics may shorten the time you are sick by about one
When antibiotics may be used
Antibiotics may be
used in the following situations:
- You have had a positive rapid strep test or
positive throat culture.
- You have three or more of the following
signs or symptoms:
- A recent fever
- White or
yellow spots or coating on the throat or tonsils
- Swollen or tender
lymph nodes on the neck
- Absence of signs of a cold or other upper
respiratory illness, such as coughing or sneezing
- You have recently had
rheumatic fever and have been exposed to strep.
Preventive antibiotics may be given in some cases.
- Several family
members are having repeated strep infections as confirmed by positive throat
It is possible for you to carry the strep bacteria in the
throat and not have any symptoms. Antibiotics for the carrier state are usually
not needed unless you have a history of rheumatic fever or frequent infections
or infections are occurring frequently in the family.
For more information, see:
- Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?
Antibiotics such as penicillin, cephalexin, or
amoxicillin are used to treat strep throat infection.
What to Think About
Immediate treatment with an
antibiotic after a positive rapid strep test may not make you well faster. But
it will shorten the time you are able to spread the disease to others.
Antibiotics also lower the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of
your body. But there is no harm in delaying medicine treatment 1 to 2 days to
wait for the results of a throat culture. Antibiotics will prevent rheumatic
fever even if it is started up to 9 days after symptoms begin.3