How do medications treat strep throat?

Diana K. Blythe, MD

Strep throat is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. Medications that treat strep throat are antibiotics that kill the bacteria. Please take all the antibiotics. If you just take antibiotics until you feel better, you have made yourself feel better without killing all the bacteria. In this case, you are more at risk for the negative outcomes of strep throat like rheumatic heart disease, scarlet fever and kidney inflammation.

Antibiotics kill the bacteria responsible for strep throat. The antibiotics must be taken for the entire time prescribed by the doctor to keep the infection from coming back or getting worse. Most people can recover without antibiotics, but antibiotics can help prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the body or to other people. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen treat the discomfort of the sore throat and help to control the fever that may be present with the infection.

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