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How Long Does Strep Throat Last? What You Need to Know

how long does strep throat last

Introduction

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection. It is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus. The symptoms can develop rapidly and be extremely unpleasant. Therefore, it is natural to ask how long does strep throat last.

There is no single answer to the query, i.e., how long can strep throat last? The recovery rate for each individual varies with numerous factors, including their age, the presence or absence of other health problems, and how quickly they receive treatment.

This article will discuss the duration of strep throat. It also sheds light on how to treat strep throat and the symptoms that indicate you need medical attention. Continue reading to find out how long does strep throat last.

How Long Does Strep Throat Last

Before answering how long strep throat lasts, let’s first look at what it is, its symptoms, and how it transmits.

It is an infectious condition that impacts both the throat and tonsils. It is more likely to occur in school settings. School-aged children are more prone to get the infection.

In rare instances, strep throat can cause rheumatic fever, which can cause heart valve damage. Therefore, if you suspect you have strep throat, you must seek care immediately.

Although strep throat is not life-threatening, it can be quite painful.

How do the bacteria transmit?

Strep is easily transmitted because it resides in the nose and throat. People with the bacteria can transmit it to others by speaking, coughing, or sneezing, which all release microscopic droplets of bacteria into the air. Strep can also spread through infected skin sores that are already open.

You could contract strep throat if you touch your mouth or nose after touching a doorknob or another surface.

Anyone is susceptible to strep throat. However, it is more likely to occur between the ages of 5 and 15. Strep throat is more prevalent among school-age children. Their parents may also be affected by bacterial transmission.

It takes two to five days for strep throat to exhibit after infection with group A strep bacteria.

Is it contagious?

Yes! The sickness can spread when someone with strep throat shares food or objects with another person.

It could also spread through coughing, sneezing, and swapping saliva droplets. If you do not wash your hands before touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, you increase your risk of becoming unwell.

How long does it remain contagious?

You will not feel unwell for two to five days after contracting strep throat. This period is known as the “incubation period.” During this time, you may have strep throat despite the absence of symptoms.

If you have strep throat, you are contagious until (1) you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and feel better or (2) you have taken antibiotics for a full day without missing a dose.

Symptoms of Strep Throat

The most common symptom of strep throat is a painful throat with red, swollen tonsils. This symptom comes on very quickly.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fever and headache
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea/vomiting and stomach pain
  • Small, red spots on the mouth’s roof

Lab Testing

So, how long can strep throat last?

Symptoms of strep throat become apparent suddenly. You should visit your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have a high fever and a severe sore throat.

Antibiotics are most effective when administered 48 hours after the first infection symptom, but they should never be used before strep is positively identified.

Most patients with strep throat feel worse for 2-3 days before they begin to feel better. Strep throat typically resolves on its own within 7-10 days. Typically, strep throat can last for 7- 10 days.

Recovery Period 

Strep throat symptoms improve between the third and fourth day.

Consult your physician if your symptoms worsen after three days or if they do not improve after 7–10 days.

Antibiotic treatment for strep throat usually lasts for ten days. People are fully recovered and no longer exhibit symptoms after ten days.

If you begin to feel better before your doctor instructs you to stop taking the medication, you must complete the entire course. If you stop taking your medication prematurely, you may become ill again, and the medication may not be as effective against subsequent infections.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Strep Throat

The diagnosis includes a physical examination of the mouth, throat, and nose and a medical history of symptoms.

Running a rapid strep test is the most effective method to confirm the diagnosis. The test involves taking a swab sample from the patient’s throat. A test series is conducted on this sample to detect the strep bacteria.

A swab is used to collect a sample of cells from the throat and grow them in the laboratory for one to two days.

Since it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are considered the most effective treatment option. Antibiotics prevent further complications by acting against the bacteria.

The three most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics for strep throat are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Penicillin
  • Cephalexin

Pain and discomfort resulting from infection can be managed with pain relievers easily available as over-the-counter medicines. Warm tea and gargles are also used to ease the pain.

The treatment helps determine how long does strep throat last. The duration of the infection increases if you do not take medicines.

How long does strep throat last with medicines (antibiotics)?

After taking antibiotics, your symptoms should improve rapidly, typically within a day or two. It is necessary to take the antibiotic as directed to eliminate the bacteria.

The risk of transmission and complications increases without antibiotics. Strep throat complications include:

  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (kidney disease)
  • Guttate psoriasis (skin disorder)
  • Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory condition)
  • Abscess and Scarlet fever

When to seek medical assistance?

If your throat hurts and you suspect you may have strep throat, consult a doctor immediately. You should visit a doctor if you have difficulties swallowing, speaking, or breathing.

Antibiotic treatment can shorten the duration of symptoms by one day, and after three days of use, it may alleviate the discomfort of a sore throat. Even though strep throat typically resolves on its own, taking antibiotics can help alleviate the symptoms sooner. Antibiotics could be administered to prevent the worsening of issues.

See Also: Strep Throat – Can It Be Prevented?

Conclusion

With the detailed explanation presented in this post, you are now aware of how long does strep throat last.

Within a few days of taking antibiotics, most patients feel significantly better. Also, many individuals with strep throat are contagious, although medications often reduce this risk significantly within 24 to 48 hours.

People who suspect they have strep throat should see a doctor immediately to receive the proper treatment and avoid complications.

Skilled professionals at Family Medicine Austin are here to determine your optimal course of action with efficient lab testing services. To achieve optimal health, call us today.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.