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
- Prevent rare
complications. Although uncommon, strep bacteria can
spread to other parts of your body, causing
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
- 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?