Half a billion people get strep throat every year. Even more, believe they have strep throat, so they self-treat with an antibiotic.
Here’s the thing. Antibiotics are a miracle in the medical community, but you have to be sure you have a bacterial infection before using antibiotics.
If you only have a sore throat, antibiotics may not be right for you.
However, if a doctor diagnoses strep throat, it is very wise to treat the strep infection with antibiotics.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate several million Americans suffer from strep throat every year. They also estimate up to 1,900 Americans die every year due to complications stemming from an untreated strep infection.
So it is important to treat your strep throat.
Most of the time, antibiotics should be administered to treat strep throat. Here is everything you should know before deciding.
Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is a highly infectious disease.
A sore throat is a pain or irritation in your throat caused by any number of risk factors:
Treating a viral infection with antibiotics is unnecessary. The overuse of these drugs has led to antibiotic resistance — a real concern of the CDC and modern medicine.⁵
But if it is strep throat (or another bacterial infection), antibiotics could be your best bet.
What are the first signs of strep throat?
These are the most common symptoms of strep throat:⁶
To diagnose strep throat and make sure it is not just a sore throat, your healthcare Clinician may administer a rapid strep test from a throat swab from the back of the throat (which may cause gagging). A rapid strep test should detect strep bacteria antigens in a few minutes.
If that quick test comes back negative, your doctor may still want to do a strep throat culture. A throat swab will be cultured in a lab. It may take as much as two days to detect the strep bacteria in a throat culture. It is more sensitive than a rapid strep test.
What symptoms necessitate a doctor’s visit? Swollen lymph nodes, fever, problems breathing or swallowing, or any symptom lasting longer than 48 hours should compel you to call a doctor right away.
If you are being treated with antibiotics, and your symptoms haven’t subsided after 48 hours, call a doctor.
If you experience symptoms of strep throat, see a doctor immediately. Treatment is most effective when started within 48 hours of the onset.
Strep throat is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. These bacteria are highly contagious.
Strep bacteria can be spread via:
Are there risk factors that increase your chance of strep throat? You are more likely to contract a strep throat infection when:
Antibiotic treatment is by far the most common and effective method of eliminating a bacterial infection, such as group A strep.
We definitely recommend antibiotic treatment if…
In our practice, antibiotics aren’t always a go-to treatment. They do carry risks, including antibiotic resistance and minor side effects.⁹
However, with our experience treating children facing PANDAS, we find that it’s better to cure strep quickly to reduce the risk of children developing a much more serious condition.
What cures strep throat fast? Antibiotics target and neutralize bacteria, usually getting rid of strep bacteria within two days. Penicillin is probably the most common antibiotic.
For those who are allergic to the ‘cillins (including amoxicillin) azithromycin is an alternative your doctor may prescribe.
Are there any side effects of taking antibiotics? The most common side effect that a normal regimen of antibiotics may cause is an imbalance in good bacteria that may lead to diarrhea. You can eat foods high in probiotics (fermented foods) or take a probiotic supplement to restore your microbiome.¹⁰
Individual antibiotics may carry other side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms. Talk to your healthcare Clinician if you or your child experience unexpected symptoms after starting an antibiotic, especially if you notice a rash, which may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Avoid taking antibiotics longer than you need to, or before an actual strep throat diagnosis is reached.
One of the most serious medical conditions facing the world today is antibiotic resistance.¹¹ This happens when we use antibiotics so much that they are no longer effective against harmful bacteria. It’s rare for scientists to discover a new, effective antibiotic, so when common infectious bacteria are no longer useful, this presents a host of problems.
But antibiotics are the best solution to diagnose strep throat. If left untreated, others may contract strep, and there are some serious complications that can arise.
If you have a sore throat that is not caused by a strep infection, antibiotics are not right for you. Antibiotics should be reserved for a diagnosed bacterial infection, such as strep throat.
Can strep throat run its course without antibiotics? Reportedly, strep throat can go away without antibiotics, but that does not mean it is not dangerous.
Not only can you infect others, but complications may arise from untreated strep.
In order to relieve strep throat symptoms while you treat the underlying cause, you can ease throat pain linked to strep with:
Strep throat is self-limiting and can resolve itself within a week if left untreated by antibiotics. But this can result in serious complications. And you could spread the strep infection to others — children are especially vulnerable.
What can happen if strep throat is left untreated? There are some serious complications of untreated strep infection. These complications are uncommon but are important for you to know when weighing the risks.
PANDAS (“Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus”) may develop in children with untreated strep throat. PANDAS results in sudden-onset OCD, aggressive behaviors, ADHD-like symptoms, Tourette-like symptoms, and possibly more.
Untreated PANDAS may follow children into adulthood.
We are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of children with PANS and PANDAS — even helping our own daughter to overcome PANDAS a few years ago. Our office provides the best care in Indiana for PANS and PANDAS. We also see patients from across the country. The first visit must be in the office but often follow-ups may be done remotely. If you are unable to travel, you may be able to find a physician near you at the PANDAS Physician Network .
Whether you have strep or just a sore throat, unwanted symptoms can bring a world of hurt. Here are some natural remedies for a painful sore throat:
We often hear from patients who are overwhelmed with medical conditions, confused by doctors’ conflicting information, tired of endless prescription pharmaceuticals, and interested in optimizing and maintaining their whole-body health.
To address this, we developed the Fully Functional® process. We help patients stop future diseases and disorders through focused and active prevention. Mitigating the effects of time and toxins, both of which we all have to deal with, can bring physical, mental, and spiritual healing.
We divided our Fully Functional® process into five steps:
Follow these tips to become Fully Functional®. For a detailed and personalized plan, you can book an appointment by clicking here , or please call us at (317) 989-8463, Monday-Thursday, from 8AM – 5PM Eastern time.
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The Center for Fully Functional Health® is led by a team of award-winning, internationally recognized physicians, committed to providing personalized, life-changing care.