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Understanding Strep Throat -- Treatment

What Is the Treatment for Strep Throat?

In the past, when people had signs of strep -- the red, raw throat, spikes in fever, and white spots on the tongue and tonsils -- doctors would culture a specimen from the patient's throat and wait 24 hours to 48 hours for the results. If the test indicated streptococcus, the patient could then start taking antibiotics. To avoid this delay, some doctors used to start patients on antibiotics immediately, not waiting for the results of the culture

Diagnosis has been made much simpler today as a result of the "rapid strep" test. The specimen is obtained just like a culture and involves touching the back of the throat with a small cotton swab to catch some of the germs. The rapid strep test only takes about 5 to 10 minutes for results and if the results are positive, the diagnosis is confirmed. However, a negative test does not rule out strep throat since the rapid test may miss some strep throat infections (“false negatives”). These negative tests can be verified by a back-up culture, which is a more sensitive test. The culture results, as in the past, may take up to 48 hours. The beauty of the rapid test is that if it is positive, you can start antibiotics right away without confirmation that the strep organism is the culprit.

Understanding Strep Throat

If your throat is sore, you're running a high fever, and you have no energy -- you may have strep throat. Here's what you should know.

Strep throat is best treated by antibiotics since the disease can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Antibiotics are a quick, effective treatment.

The traditional, time-honored treatment for strep is penicillin, though many doctors have reported increasing treatment failures from this. Other commonly used antibiotics for strep include cephalosporins like cephalexin, erythromycin-based medicines or clindamycin.

Antibiotics reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, the risk of complications, and the length of time you can potentially spread the infection to others. The contagious period is over after being on antibiotics for 24 hours. Relief from the sore throat should come within 24 hours to 36 hours after you start taking antibiotics. Doctors recommend throat lozenges, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen and gargling with warm salt water to ease the pain for the first few hours.

Frequently, people on antibiotics notice improvement quickly and stop taking their medications before the full course of treatment is completed. This can have dangerous consequences. Prematurely halting your dosage may lead to developing post-infection heart problems (rheumatic fever). So even though you may feel better right away, it's important to finish the entire prescription.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Daniel Brennan, MD on March 12, 2014

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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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