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Strep Throat - Treatment Overview

Antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cephalexin, or penicillin are used to treat strep throat. Antibiotics work only against bacterial infections such as strep throat. They will not help sore throats caused by allergies or viral infections such as colds.

Antibiotics are commonly used to:

  • Kill the bacteria and shorten the time you are contagious. You are typically no longer contagious 24 hours after you start antibiotics.
  • Prevent rare complications. Although uncommon, strep bacteria can spread to other parts of your body, causing ear or sinus infections or an abscess behind or around the tonsils (peritonsillar abscess). Antibiotics may also prevent the infection from triggering your immune system to attack itself and cause serious conditions such as rheumatic fever.
  • Relieve discomfort and speed healing to some degree.

Antibiotic treatment can begin immediately if a strep infection is confirmed by a rapid strep test. But there is no harm in waiting for the results of a throat culture to confirm strep throat before starting antibiotic treatment. In fact, it is better to wait until strep throat has been confirmed so that antibiotics are not used unnecessarily. Overuse of antibiotics can make them ineffective.

Although waiting to treat strep throat may prolong the time you have the illness, delaying treatment for a few days doesn't increase the risk of rheumatic fever or other complications.1

Your doctor also may recommend nonprescription medicines such as acetaminophen or anesthetic throat sprays to help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by strep throat. Acetaminophen will also reduce fever.

For more information, see:

Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 16, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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