Topic Overview


What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and also the tonsils. The neck gets irritated and also inflamed, causing a sudden, significant sore throat.

You are watching: How long can strep throat go untreated

What reasons strep throat?

Strep neck is resulted in by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. There are countless different types of strep bacteria. Some cause an ext serious condition than others.

Although some people are fast to think that any type of painful sore throat is strep, sick throats room usually led to by a viral infection and also not strep bacteria. A ill throat brought about by a virus can be simply as painful as strep throat. But if you have cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or a runny or stuffy nose, you most likely do not have strep throat.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of strep neck are:

A sudden, serious sore throat.Pain when you swallow.Fever over38.3°C (101°F).White or yellow point out on the earlier of a glowing red throat.

You may also have a headache and belly pain. Less usual symptoms room a red skin rash, vomiting, not feeling hungry, and body aches.

Strep throat have the right to be passed from human being to person. Once a human being who has actually strep neck breathes, coughs, or sneezes, small droplets through the strep bacteria enter the air. This droplets have the right to be breathed in by various other people. If you come into call with strep, it will certainly take 2 come 5 days before you start to have actually symptoms.

How is strep neck diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physics examination, questioning you about your symptoms and past health, and do a lab check such as a throat society or fast strep test.

To perform a neck culture, the doctor will swab a sample of cells from the ago of your throat. The sample will get in a special cup (culture) whereby the strep bacteria can thrive over time. If strep bacteria grow, the physician knows that you have strep. If the doctor does a fast test and also the test states that you don"t have actually strep (the check is negative) yet your symptoms imply that friend do, your doctor might want to carry out a throat society to it is in sure. This is due to the fact that rapid strep tests are not constantly accurate.

If the fast strep test is positive and says that you do have strep, there"s no should do the neck culture.

How is the treated?

Doctors commonly treat strep throat with antibiotics. Antibiotics shorten the moment you are able to spread out the disease to others (are contagious) and lower the hazard of spreading the epidemic to various other parts of her body. Antibiotics additionally may aid you feel much better faster.

You are transmittable while you still have symptoms. Most people stop being transmittable 24 hours after they begin antibiotics. If friend don"t take it antibiotics, you may be contagious for 2 come 3 weeks, also if her symptoms go away.

Your physician may also advise girlfriend to take it an over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen (such together Tylenol) or ib frames (such as Advil or Motrin) to help with pain and lower your fever. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different assets with different dosing recommendations. Talk to her child"s doctor prior to switching ago and forth in between doses that acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch in between two medicines, there is a opportunity your kid will get too lot medicine. Studies have actually not shown any added benefit from alternating these medicines.Be safe with medicines. Read and also follow every instructions ~ above the label. Execute not give aspirin come anyone younger 보다 18. It has actually been attached to Reye syndrome, a major illness.

How carry out you avoid strep throat?

To avoid gaining strep throat, that is a good idea come avoid call with anyone who has a strep infection. If girlfriend are approximately someone who has strep, wash your hands often. Don"t drink from the exact same glass or use the exact same eating utensils. And don"t re-superstructure toothbrushes.

Bacteria have the right to live for a quick time ~ above doorknobs, water faucets, and also other objects. It"s a an excellent idea to wash her hands regularly.

If you have a strep infection, there are things you have the right to do to protect against spreading it to others. Usage tissues you have the right to throw away rather of handkerchiefs, wash her hands often, and also do no sneeze or sneeze on others. Antibiotics deserve to shorten the moment that you are contagious. The is a good idea come stay house from job-related or school until 24 hrs after you have actually started antibiotics.


Strep neck is resulted in by streptococcal (strep) bacteria, most often by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABS). Other species of strep that have the right to sometimes epidemic the neck are groups C and G strep bacteria.

A strep infection causes the throat (pharynx) and the tonsils or adenoids to end up being irritated, inflamed, and painful.

Sore throats room most commonly caused by famous infections or various other irritants such as smoke, allergies, dry air, or a neck injury, and also not through a strep infection.

How the strep infection is spread

Strep throat can be passed from human being to person. As soon as a person infected v strep throat breathes, coughs, or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the strep bacteria space released right into the air and are breathed in by other people.


Common symptoms of strep neck in children and adults include:

Severe and sudden sore throat without coughing, sneezing, or various other cold symptoms.Pain or difficulty with swallowing.White or yellow spots or coating top top the throat and also tonsils.Bright red throat or dark red clues on the roof of the mouth in ~ the earlier near the throat.Swollen tonsils, return this symptom may additionally be resulted in by a viral infection.

In teenagers, mononucleosis can reason a significant sore neck that looks like and has symptoms comparable to those of strep throat. For an ext information, see the subject Mononucleosis (Mono).

It is easy to tell as soon as you have a sore neck or a cold. The is more difficult to understand when you have actually strep throat. Typically, sore throats are caused by a viral infection and not strep bacteria. Strep throat normally does not occur with cold symptom such together coughing, sneezing, or a runny or stuffy nose. The an ext cold symptoms you have, the less likely it is the your sore neck is a strep infection.

In some cases of strep infection, a skin decision develops and also spreads end the neck and also chest and eventually end the entirety body. The rash feel rough favor sandpaper. This problem is called scarlet fever. Scarlet fever is treated through antibiotics. This generally leads to a rapid recovery. Scarlet heat is no dangerous if treated.

What Happens

Symptoms of strep throat usually begin within 2 to 5 work after girlfriend come in call with someone who has a strep infection. Strep throat usually goes away in 3 come 7 days through or there is no antibiotic treatment. In contrast, if allergies or irritants space the reason of her sore throat, that will usually last longer unless the cause is eliminated.

If strep neck isn"t treated through antibiotics, friend will proceed to be transmittable for 2 to 3 weeks even if her symptoms walk away. Friend are much less contagious within 24 hours after you start antibiotics and also are much less likely to build complications the the strep infection.

Complications that strep throat

Complications that strep throat space rare but can occur, particularly if your throat infection isn"t effectively treated through antibiotics. Complications can occur when the strep infection spreads to other parts of the body and causes various other infections, such as an ear or sinus infection or an abscess near the tonsils (peritonsillar abscess). Complications can also result in her immune mechanism attacking itself and causing serious conditions such together rheumatic fever.

Treating strep throat can significantly reduce your danger for rheumatic fever and also its complications. It is not clear whether dealing with the strep infection with antibiotics reduces your danger for inflammation that the kidney (acute glomerulonephritis).

What boosts Your Risk

Your hazard of gaining strep throat increases if you come in close call with others, specifically children, who have a strep infection.

The dimension of a child"s tonsils isn"t a risk factor for neck infections. Kids or adults who have had their tonsils removed can still acquire strep throat.

When have to you speak to your doctor?

Call your physician today if you have:

Call a physician if the following symptoms build 1 come 2 mainly or much longer after a strep neck infection. This symptoms may show rheumatic fever.

WeaknessShortness of breathJoint painRaised red decision or lumps under the skinUncontrolled, jerking activities of the arms or legs

Call your medical professional if her symptoms perform not boost after 2 work of treatment v an antibiotic.

Watchful waiting

Watchful wait is proper if her sore neck occurs with symptoms choose those that a cold, such together sneezing, coughing, and a runny or stuffy nose. In general, the an ext of this symptoms you have, the less likely it is that your sore throat is led to by a strep infection. You can try home treatment if your sore throat is not severe and also you have actually other symptoms of a cold.

For an ext information top top what to execute if you have sore neck symptoms, check out the topic Sore Throat and Other throat Problems.

Who to see

Your family members doctor or basic practitioner can evaluate a ill throat, do throat cultures or fast tests, and also prescribe antibiotic treatment if needed. You may be described a specialist, such as a doctor for her child, or one otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist).

If surgical treatment to eliminate chronically enlarged or infected tonsils or adenoids is suggested, you might be referred to an otolaryngologist.

Examinations and also Tests

Strep neck is diagnosed from your clinical history, a physics examination of her throat, and a rap test, such as a throat culture. Sometimes a fast strep test is provided to check for strep. Her doctor may confirm the results of the rapid strep test v a neck culture.

Current therapy guidelines recommend the your doctor confirm strep throat v a rap test, such together a neck culture, and not simply diagnose strep neck from her symptoms. But your medical professional may begin treatment because that strep throat prior to the an outcome of her throat society is back if you have actually three or 4 of the adhering to symptoms:

A recent fever the 38.3°C (101°F) or higherWhite or yellow point out or coating ~ above the neck or tonsils

One or both of the following tests are used to check that you have strep throat.

If symptoms of strep throat are present, that is crucial to it is in tested because that strep infection. Prompt treatment will reduce the spread of strep throat and also may mitigate the risk of complications, such as the infection spreading to other parts of her body causing ear or sinus infections or one abscess behind or approximately your tonsils (peritonsillar abscess).

The quick strep test is not used in plenty of parts of Canada. If you should be tested for strep throat and the rapid strep test is available, the may assist to comment on with your medical professional the advantages and flaw of every test. For instance, results from a fast strep check are available within 10 to 15 minutes, and also results native a throat culture may take it 1 to 2 days. A throat society is more accurate.

If the rapid strep test an outcome is positive, a throat culture isn"t needed. Antibiotic treatment can be started appropriate away. Antibiotics might not do you fine faster. Yet they shorten the time you are able to spread the disease to others. Antibiotics additionally lower the risk of spreading the infection to various other parts of your body.

Testing is no needed:

For a human being who to be exposed to strep yet has no symptoms. For instance, family members of a person who has strep throat execute not have to be tested uneven they start to have actually symptoms.

It is possible for a human being to carry the strep bacteria and not have any kind of symptoms. If a number of infections take place in the same family, or if there have actually been major complications such together rheumatic heat or toxic shock syndrome, it might be advantageous to test family members to learn whether they are carriers of strep infection. Yet it is unexplained for a human to catch strep throat from a carrier.

Treatment Overview

Antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cephalexin, or penicillin are offered to treat strep throat. Antibiotics work only against bacterial infections such together strep throat. They will certainly not help sore throats resulted in by allergy or famous infections such together colds.

Antibiotics are generally used to:

Kill the bacteria and also shorten the time you are contagious. Girlfriend are typically no longer contagious 24 hrs after you begin antibiotics.Relieve discomfort and also speed heal to part degree.

Antibiotic treatment can begin immediately if a strep epidemic is shown by a quick strep test. Yet there is no injury in waiting for the outcomes of a throat culture to check strep throat before beginning antibiotic treatment. In fact, it is much better to wait till strep throat has actually been evidenced so the antibiotics space not used unnecessarily. Overuse the antibiotics deserve to make them ineffective.

Although wait to act strep neck may extend the time you have actually the illness, delaying therapy for a couple of days doesn"t rise the risk of rheumatic heat or various other complications.

Your doctor likewise may recommend non-prescription medications such together acetaminophen or anesthetic throat sprays to aid relieve the pain and discomfort caused by strep throat. Acetaminophen will additionally reduce fever. Be safe v medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with various dosing recommendations. Speak to your child"s doctor before switching ago and forth between doses of acetaminophen and also ibuprofen. Once you switch in between two medicines, there is a opportunity your kid will get too lot medicine. Studies have not presented any added benefit from alternate these medicines.

For an ext information, see:


To avoid acquiring strep throat, it is a good idea to avoid call with anyone who has actually a strep infection.

Wash her hands often when you are about people with colds or famous or bacter illnesses. Do not share toothbrush or eating and also drinking utensils.

Bacteria are virtually alwaystransfer by call with tiny droplets indigenous an infected person. Strep throat is passed indigenous one human being to another by call with the small droplets of an infected person"s cough, sneeze, or breath.Bacteria can likewise live for a short time top top doorknobs, water faucets, and also other objects. If friend touch an infected object and also then touch her eyes, nose, or mouth, friend can become infected with the bacteria or virus.Bacteria can also be brought on food.

Keep up her body"s resistance to infection through a great diet, lot of of sleep, and regular exercise. Controlling stress can also strengthen her body"s capacity to fight turn off illness, such as strep throat.

Humidify her home during the dry winter months or year-round if girlfriend live in a dried climate. Humidity in the air (humidity) helps save your mucous membrane moist and an ext resistant come bacteria. You deserve to use a humidifier in the bedroom while you sleep. Yet use care if a human being in the home has asthma or allergies, since mould or other particles that collection in the humidifier have the right to make these problems worse. Clean humidifiers ~ above a constant basis.

Stop smoking, and avoid breath others" smoke. Smoke irritates the neck tissues and also may make you more likely to gain infection.

Home Treatment

Your medical professional may have actually prescribed one antibiotic for strep throat. Take all of the antibiotic specifically as prescribed. This will assist prevent the infection from coming earlier and will avoid complications of infection that can occur if you carry out not take it the medication as prescribed.

There are many ways that you have the right to make you yourself feel much better while you room waiting because that the strep epidemic to go away.

Drink plenty of fluids and increase humidity (moisture in the air) in your house to assist keep your neck moist. Herbal teas formulated for colds may aid relieve symptoms.Get lot of of rest. Stay residence the very first day that antibiotic treatment. You space still contagious and also might pass the infection to others. Rest in bed if girlfriend feel very sick. Bedrest is not required if you feel fine.Try an over-the-counter anesthetic throat spray or neck lozenges, which may help relieve throat pain. Carry out not market throat lozenges to young children as they room a choking hazard. If your kid is younger than age 2, questioning your physician if you can give your son numbing medicines.

For an ext information ~ above non-prescription medicines and other ways to relax sore throat symptoms, watch the subject Strep Throat: residence Treatment.

For the first 24 hours after you start taking an antibiotic, you space still contagious. You can avoid pass the strep neck infection to others and also reinfecting you yourself by:

Avoiding sneezing or sneeze on others.Washing her hands often.Using organization you have the right to throw away, not handkerchiefs.Using a new toothbrush as quickly as you feeling sick. Replace it again when you are well. Girlfriend can likewise clean your toothbrush well before using it again. Bacteria can collect on the bristles and reinfect you.


Antibiotics room the treatment of choice for a shown strep throat infection.

Antibiotics will reduce the time you room contagious. You are usually not contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotics.Antibiotics may shorten the time you space sick by around one day.

When antibiotics may be used

Antibiotics might be offered in the following situations:

You have had actually a hopeful rapid strep check or positive throat culture.You have three or more of the following signs or symptoms: A current feverWhite or yellow point out or coating top top the throat or tonsilsSwollen or tender lymph nodes ~ above the neckAbsence of indications of a cold or other upper respiratory tract illness, such together coughing or sneezingSeveral family members members are having actually repeated strep epidemic as confirmed by optimistic throat cultures.

It is possible for girlfriend to lug the strep bacteria in the throat and not have any type of symptoms. Antibiotics because that the carrier state are usually not essential unless you have a history of rheumatic fever or constant infections or epidemic are developing frequently in the family.

For much more information, see:

Medicine choices

Antibiotics such together amoxicillin, cephalexin, or penicillin are offered to law strep throat infection.

What to think about

Immediate treatment through an antibiotic ~ a confident rapid strep test may not make you well faster. Yet it will certainly shorten the moment you space able to spread out the disease to others. Antibiotics also lower the hazard of the infection dispersing to various other parts of her body. However there is no injury in delaying medicine treatment 1 come 2 days to wait because that the outcomes of a neck culture. Antibiotics will stop rheumatic fever even if that is began up to 9 job after symptoms begin.


If strep throat proceeds to recur, you and your doctor may decide that you need surgery to eliminate the tonsils (tonsillectomy). Surgery is thought about when you:

Have recurring episodes of strep throat or tonsillitis in a single year despite antibiotic treatment.Have abscesses around the tonsils that execute not respond to drainage, or if one abscess is current in enhancement to other signs that you may need tonsillectomy.Have persistent negative odour or taste in the mouth, i beg your pardon is caused by tonsillitis that does no respond to antibiotics.Need a biopsy to evaluate a suspected tumour the the tonsil.

Large tonsils room not one indication for tonsillectomy uneven they are resulting in one the the above problems or they are blocking the upper airway, which can cause sleep apnea or troubles with eating.

Surgery choices

Tonsillectomy might be excellent in some cases of strep throat.

An abscess approximately the tonsils (peritonsillar abscess) may be treated v a simple procedure in i beg your pardon a little incision is do to drain the abscess, return removing the tonsils is proper in several of these cases.

What come think about

Tonsillectomy is no much longer routine for children who have frequent sore throats. Surgery has been shown to reduce the number of throat infections because that 2 years. However over time many kids who walk not have actually surgery additionally had fewer neck infections.footnote 1

When you space trying to decide whether to have your or your child"s tonsils removed, consider:

How much time girlfriend or your kid is lacking from work-related or school because of throat infections.How lot stress and also inconvenience the disease places on the family.

The dangers of surgical treatment must also be weighed versus the threats of leaving the tonsils in. In some instances of persistent strep neck infections, particularly if there are various other complications, surgery may be the best choice.

See more: How Many Gas X Can You Take In A Day, What Is Gas



Other functions Consulted

American Academy the Pediatrics (2015). Team A streptococcal infections. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2015 Report of the Committee on contagious Diseases, 28th ed., pp. 616–628. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.American love Association (2009). Avoidance of rheumatic fever and also diagnosis and treatment that acute streptococcal pharyngitis: A scientific statement native the American heart Association Rheumatic Fever, Endocarditis, and also Kawasaki disease Committee of the the supervisory board on Cardiovascular condition in the Young, the Interdisciplinary board of directors on useful Genomics and also Translational Biology, and also the Interdisciplinary the supervisory board on the quality of Care and Outcomes Research: Endorsed by the American Academy the Pediatrics. Circulation, 119(11): 1541–1551.Kenealy T (2014). Sick throat. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Http:// Accessed in march 21, 2014.Wessels grandfather (2011). Streptococcal pharyngitis. New England journal of Medicine, 364(7): 648–655.Wessels mr (2015). Streptococcal infections. In DL Kasper et al., eds., Harrison"s ethics of internal Medicine, 19th ed., vol. 2, pp. 963–971. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.