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How is strep throat treated?

Strep throat is treated with antibiotics. Typically, penicillin or amoxicillin is given in a 10 day course of treatment, but sometimes an injection of penicillin is administered. If you have an allergy to penicillin, though, you might be prescribed one of the following:

  • azithromycin
  • clarithromycin
  • erythromycin
  • clindamycin

You should start to feel better within 48 hours of starting antibiotic treatment, but make sure to finish the whole prescription as directed. Your doctor may also suggest you take over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate some of the discomfort and pain you feel. And you'll be encouraged to rest and keep hydrated until you recover from the infection.

Strep test results will help your doctor decide if you need antibiotics. Antibiotics reduce the length of time you’re sick and reduce your symptoms. Antibiotic treatment may also prevent the spread of infection to friends and family members. They can also prevent complications such as tonsil and sinus infections, and, although rare in the United States, acute rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that can affect the heart, joints, skin and brain).

Once treatment begins, you should start feeling better in just a day or two. Call your doctor if you don't feel better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours. People with strep throat should stay home from work, school or daycare until they have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours. Be sure to finish the entire prescription, even when you start feeling better before the medicine is all gone.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrician

The gold standard for treatment of strep throat is a penicillin product. The most commonly prescribed type of penicillin prescribed is amoxicillin which is taken twice daily for ten days. A one-time shot of bicillin can also be given for strep throat which does not respond to the oral medication. For kids who are allergic to penicillin, another antibiotic will be prescribed. 

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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.