How Long Is Strep Contagious: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

The burning pain and discomfort of a throat can make a day miserable. From drinking water to talking on the phone, everyday jobs suddenly become uncomfortable.

There are many reasons for discomfort in the throat. While it is common to guess you may have strep throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can make your throat scratchy and sore. This infection can prompt serious diseases which can have life-threatening impacts.

Read on to know about strep throat, its causes, how long is strep contagious, and also the ways of treatment in detail.

What is Strep Throat?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils. It is caused by a kind of bacteria called Streptococcus. It is a communicable disease and can make your throat very rough and painful. 

Strep throat is familiar in school children but can also occur in grown-ups. It can rarely prompt serious diseases such as rheumatic fever. 

Rheumatic fever is an infection that can harm your heart valves. So, it must be diagnosed and treated in time. 

To test your strep throat for infection, you can consult your doctor. He may advise you to have a throat culture. In throat culture, the doctor will look for germs such as fungus or bacteria that may cause an infection. With favorable medication, strep throat usually gets cured in ten days.

What Are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?

The right way to prevent strep is by staying away from someone who seems sick. The strep throat symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Red or swollen tonsils
  • Fever
  • Swollen or painful neck glands
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting 

All sore throats are not strep-infected. Sometimes, children have a sore throat, which usually gets fine without medication.

Children who may have strep might get additional symptoms within three days. Those are as follows:

  • Trouble swallowing food
  • White and red patches in the throat
  • Frequent headaches
  • Lower stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


Strep throat spreads when someone who has the germs sneezes. However, you can catch strep too when:

  • You come into contact with these droplets landing on a table or doorknob and then rub your nose, eyes, or mouth with the same dirty hands.
  • You share items such as a spoon, glass, or toothbrush with someone who is unhealthy.

When you get an infection, you begin to reflect signs within 2 to 5 days. Antibiotics can evade the disease from spreading to others. People who take medication end up being infectious after a day.

Who Are More Prone To Strep Throat?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


Strep throat generally occurs in people who have a weak immune system. It may include anyone who:

  • Has cancer or tumors
  • Has HIV or AIDS
  • Have an organ transplant recently
  • Consumes drug or pill that prevents the ability to fight against germs
  • Have kidney diseases
  • Use irritants such as tobacco 
  • Do smoking or eat spicy food
  • Muscle strain from speaking loudly or shouting
  • Has GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

How To Diagnose Strep Throat?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


Strep throat prompted by bacterial infection is a kind of sore throat that can get treated efficiently. But its treatment is different from the healing method for sore throats. 

When you visit your doctor, he will first examine your symptoms. He may suggest you give two kinds of tests to find the right cause.

1. Rapid Strep Test

It can observe a cause by taking only a few minutes. The doctor will hold down your tongue gently with a depressor. Then, he will use a cotton swab to take a sample from the end of the throat. 

You will get results in about minutes or less than that. If the outcome is positive and strep is there, the doctor will suggest antibiotics to deal with it.

If the result is negative and no strep bacteria is present, the doctor might take the sample to a laboratory for follow-up tests that take more time.

2. Throat Culture

The doctor will wipe a cotton swab on your throat and tonsils. Then, he will send it to the laboratory. If you have a strep throat infection, streptococci bacteria will develop.

It generally takes two days to get the result from a throat culture. It can ensure whether you have a strep throat infection or not.

It is essential to evaluate the situation through a throat culture because it is relatively common for kids to evolve rheumatic fever from a strep throat virus.

What Are The Treatments For Strep Throat?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


If your doctor determines the presence of strep throat, they may suggest the following antibiotics to ease it. 

  • Penicillin
  • Cephalexin
  • Cefadroxil
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax, Z-Pak, and Zmax)
  • Cephalosporins, including Suprax, Ceftin, and Keflex
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)
  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Amoxicillin

Along with antibiotics, your medic may recommend some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to cure the symptoms.

Side Effects Of Treatment

Overconsumption of antibiotics can result in side effects, such as:

  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of hunger

Usually, these effects are mild and stop after your child stops the medication. If they are severe or persist for longer than before, then contact your doctor.

Sometimes people have an antibiotic allergy that they may not know about. Signs of an allergic reaction involve:

  • Wheezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Serious throat pain
  • Make sounds during breathing
  • Redness, bleeding, or swelling in the throat

The above-given symptoms can be the reason behind other emergent situations such as Tracheitis, Peritonsillar abscess, Retropharyngeal abscess, or Epiglottitis. Visit your doctor immediately if your kid starts showing these signs.

How Long Is Strep Contagious?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


Streptococcal bacteria spread rapidly and can remain in your body for a few days. During this period, the chances of the spread of disease are high. But when you begin your antibiotic treatment, it no longer remains contagious. 

After 24 hours of treatment, you will feel better as the bacteria die off. 

Apart from medicines, some home treatments can help you ease the signs, which are as follows:

  • Take plenty of rest to help your body fight against strep throat infection.
  • Rinse with salt and warm water combination to soothe a rough throat.
  • You can suck hard candy or lozenges to feel good. Do not give small pieces of candy to kids who are four or less than that.
  • Drink warm water and liquids such as tea or soup to relieve the throat. It also keeps you hydrated. 
  • If you do not have a cold along with strep throat, you can suck ice chips or frozen pop. 
  • Avoid consuming lemonade, orange juice, and acidic drinks. These can scorch your throat and worsen the situation.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier or nasal spray in your room to feel better.
  • Avoid smoking or anything that might irritate your throat.

Also Read: Mouth Breather Vs Nose Breather: Which Is Right?

How To Prevent Spread Of Strep Throat?

How Long Is Strep Contagious


  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water. Make sure you use an alcohol-based sanitizer or soap for cleaning your hands.
  • Clean furniture and articles from time to time if someone in your home has an infection. Bacteria can live for short periods on items such as tabletops and doorknobs.
  • Wash your hands frequently if you meet a person with a potential infection risk. Also, ignore touching your nose, face, and mouth.
  • Do not share drinks, food, utensils, or toothbrushes with others.
  • Cover your mouth to cough or sneeze if you have strep throat. You can carry disposable tissue paper with you. If you do not have tissue paper, sneeze into the crook instead of your hand.
  • You can take a day off from school or work for rest.


Strep throat will not fix itself. It can result in serious difficulties if not treated in time. When diagnosed early, strep throat is easy to manage. Moreover, the illness will be short-lived.

Additionally, for proper treatment, be sure you tell your doctor about any medication allergy or reactions to particular antibiotics in the past. Based on the information given, your doctor will be capable of prescribing the correct antibiotic for you.

Now that you know the answer to — how long is strep contagious or life-threatening, make sure to share it with your friends and family. 

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