Reference Antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cephalexin, or penicillin are used to treat strep throat. Antibiotics work only against Reference bacterial infections Opens New Window such as strep throat. They will not help sore throats caused by allergies or Reference viral infections Opens New Window such as colds.
Antibiotics are commonly used to:
- Kill the bacteria and shorten the time you are contagious. You are typically no longer contagious 24 hours after you start antibiotics.
- Prevent rare Reference complications. Although uncommon, strep bacteria can spread to other parts of your body, causing ear or sinus infections or an Reference abscess Opens New Window behind or around the tonsils (Reference peritonsillar abscess Opens New Window). Antibiotics may also prevent the infection from triggering your Reference immune system Opens New Window to attack itself and cause serious conditions such as Reference rheumatic fever Opens New Window.
- Relieve discomfort and speed healing to some degree.
Antibiotic treatment can begin immediately if a strep infection is confirmed by a Reference rapid strep test. But there is no harm in waiting for the results of a Reference throat culture to confirm strep throat before starting antibiotic treatment. In fact, it is better to wait until strep throat has been confirmed so that antibiotics are not used unnecessarily. Overuse of antibiotics can make them ineffective.
Although waiting to treat strep throat may prolong the time you have the illness, delaying treatment for a few days doesn't increase the risk of rheumatic fever or other complications.Reference 1
Your doctor also may recommend nonprescription medicines such as Reference acetaminophen or anesthetic throat sprays to help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by strep throat. Acetaminophen will also reduce fever.
For more information, see:
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 31, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology