If you think you might have streptococcal pharyngitis, you should visit your healthcare provider. If you are diagnosed with streptococcal pharyngitis, antibiotic treatment is important for a couple of reasons, including:
- Untreated streptococcal pharyngitis can result in serious complications (see Strep Throat Complications)
- It is a contagious illness (see Is Strep Throat Contagious?).
With treatment, these situations are largely eliminated.
To diagnose streptococcal pharyngitis, your healthcare provider will do a throat swab, which takes a sample of fluids from the back of the throat. This sample will be used for a throat culture, or a rapid strep test. These tests look for signs of the bacteria that cause this throat infection.
Streptococcal pharyngitis is treated with antibiotics (see Strep Throat Antibiotics). Not only do they decrease the chances for complications, but they also help decrease the severity and length of symptoms.
The antibiotic of choice is penicillin, which is taken by mouth. It is effective, well tolerated, and inexpensive. There are other options for people who are allergic to penicillin.
Within 24 hours of starting antibiotics, a person's temperature should drop. After two or three days, other symptoms of streptococcal pharyngitis should start to improve.
A person is no longer contagious after they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.
(Click Strep Throat Treatment for more information, including how to treat the symptoms of a sore throat.)