How do you know if you have strep throat?
When you have strep throat, you will likely feel throat pain that comes on rapidly, difficulty swallowing, and swollen tonsils.
Other strep throat symptoms include fever, headache, tender lymph nodes in your neck, body aches, and nausea or vomiting (especially in young children). Most people with strep throat do not develop a cough or runny nose.
Visible symptoms of strep throat include red or white spots on your tonsils or in the back of your mouth.
I don’t have a sore throat or a fever. Could I still have strep?
Yes. It’s possible to have strep throat without having symptoms like a sore throat or fever. However, you are still very capable of spreading the bacteria that causes strep throat (Streptococcus A) to others.
What if I don’t have tonsils?
If your tonsils have been removed, you are less likely to get infected. However, no one is completely immune to strep throat.
Should I go to urgent care for strep throat?
Yes! Strep throat is highly contagious so if you’re experiencing symptoms, or if you’ve been around someone who is sick, it’s best to visit your nearest urgent care for a rapid strep test. Within minutes, a rapid strep test can reveal the presence of strep bacteria.
If the rapid test is negative, a clinician will determine if a throat culture is needed (based on your symptoms and other criteria). Throat cultures are more accurate, but it takes longer to receive the results since they’re sent to a lab. If your throat culture goes to the lab, the results will be ready in 2-4 days.
I tested negative for strep. What else could it be?
If you test negative for strep throat, your sore throat might be a sign of something else. Many of the symptoms associated with strep throat are similar to other illnesses, including:
Do you need antibiotics for strep throat?
Yes. If your strep test comes back positive, antibiotics are likely needed. There are several types of antibiotics used to treat strep throat, including:
Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common antibiotics, but your clinician will prescribe the best option for you.
Strep throat will eventually go away on its own without antibiotics, but you’ll likely have worse symptoms and stay contagious longer. You’re also at a higher risk for complications, such as scarlet or rheumatic fever, without treatment.
How long does strep throat last?
Strep throat typically lasts about a week with or without antibiotics. However, antibiotics are highly effective at killing bacteria and alleviating symptoms. If you take antibiotics to treat strep throat, you should start feeling better in just a day or two.
The bacteria that cause strep throat are easily spread via respiratory droplets when you talk, laugh, cough, or sneeze. Without antibiotic treatment, you could be contagious for 2-3 weeks or more. With antibiotics, you become less contagious over 24-48 hours.
What happens if strep throat goes untreated?
In addition to infecting others, leaving strep throat untreated can impact your future health. Strep bacteria can spread to other parts of your body, potentially infecting your tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, or middle ear. Strep bacteria can also cause inflammatory issues such as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, kidney inflammation, and more.