How to treat strep throat

How to treat strep throat

Strep throat is a relatively common throat infection that is caused by bacteria. It can make your throat sore and painful and you may even have other symptoms, such as red spots on the roof of your mouth and swollen glands on the sides of your neck[1]

How to get rid of strep throat

In order to get rid of the bacteria that causes strep throat, you will need to see a doctor to determine whether strep is the cause of your sore throat. There are numerous other things that could be causing the pain, such as tonsillitis or even a cold[2]. To see what the problem is, a doctor will likely perform an antigen test. This involves using a swab to take a sample from your throat. The test can detect bacteria such as the one that causes strep and will be able to provide a result in minutes. A positive test shows that the strep-causing bacteria, Streptococcus, is present and will be able to treat you accordingly[1].

If the test comes back negative, there is a further test that can be done. Another swab is taken, however it is sent off to a laboratory to be tested for bacteria. The results can take a few days, but you won’t need to wait long to find out what the issue is. Usually, a doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to help fight the infection.

As strep is caused by a bacteria, antibiotics will help to get the condition under control. These antibiotics are usually to be taken a few times a day, but you should always read the label and take the dose recommended by your doctor. You should be sure to finish the course of tablets, as stopping them early, even if you feel better, could allow the infection to come back[3].

To relieve the pain of strep throat, you could try taking Chloralieve’s honey and lemon throat lozenges. These contain anaesthetic that will numb the pain of your sore throat and antiseptic to help fight the infection. These can be used alongside antibiotics.  

Can strep throat go away on its own?

Sometimes, strep throat can go away without the need for antibiotics, however, it’s recommended that you do take them so that the infection doesn’t spread further. However, while you’re waiting for the antibiotics to take effect, there are some home remedies you can try to reduce symptoms and fight the infection. Sleep is the most effective way to fight an infection.

While you sleep, your body can use this time to repair and recover, so you should try to ensure that you get enough sleep every night (between seven and nine hours, or whatever is normal for you). You should drink plenty of water, as this will help to keep your throat lubricated and eat foods that will soothe the area rather than irritate it. This could include soups, mash potato, yoghurt and ice cream. It’s better to avoid spicy, acidic and dry foods, such as toast, orange juice and curry.

Finally, salt is a natural antibacterial product[2]. It has the ability to kill bacteria by sucking the water out through a process known as osmosis. This is why you’re told to swill salt water if you’ve had a tooth removed or to apply a salt-water solution to a wound. In the instance of strep throat, gargling salt water can kill the bacteria present in your throat.

You should mix half a teaspoon of salt in 500 milliliters of warm water. Gargle the solution a few times a day until your symptoms start to improve. The NHS recommends that children don’t gargle water as they may accidentally swallow it or choke on it[2]. If you think your child has strep throat, consult a doctor for further advice and treatment.