How do I manage my strep throat?

Diana K. Blythe, MD

Managing your strep throat starts with getting tested so you know if you have strep throat or simply a viral throat infection. Just because your throat feels like it is on fire and you can barely take a sip of water does not mean you have strep throat. This just means you should be checked for strep throat. 

Once you test positive for strep throat, you should take ALL of the antibiotic pills prescribed by your physician. If you do not take the antibiotics for yourself, take them for your children. If you inadequately treat your strep, you can pass it on to your children. They are more at risk than you for rheumatic heart disease as a complication. Until the antibiotics are finished, stay away from very hard, hot or extremely spicy foods as they may irritate your raw throat.

Most sore throats are not strep throat. Actually, they are usually caused by viruses, in which case time is the main factor that causes them to get better. If strep throat is the cause of your pain though, it is important to get antibiotic therapy. The doctor will be able to tell by taking a swab or culture from your throat and seeing if that swab tests positive for streptococcus bacteria.

If you have strep throat, make sure you take the antibiotics your doctor prescribed according to the directions. Do not stop taking it just because your symptoms have lessoned. You will put yourself at risk for the infection coming back, if you do so. Stay away from work or school for at least 24 hours after having started your antibiotic treatment. This way you won't put anyone else at risk for the infection.

You can also drink liquids, get good rest, eat soft and bland food, and take over-the-counter pain relievers to help you feel better. You might try gargling salt water frequently, as well, to alleviate pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.