Pharyngitis: Strep (Confirmed)

Two close up views of the throat showing normal tonsils and inflamed tonsils and throat.

You have had a positive test for strep throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be spread to others. It's spread by coughing, kissing, sharing glasses or eating utensils, or by touching others after touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms include:

  • Throat pain that's worse when you swallow

  • Aching all over

  • Headache

  • Swollen lymph nodes at the front of the neck

  • Red, swollen tonsils that may have white patches

  • Fever

It's treated with antibiotic medicine. You should start to feel better in 1 to 2 days with treatment.

Home care

  • Rest at home. Drink plenty of fluids so you won't get dehydrated.

  • You can return to school or work if you are feeling better, have been taking the antibiotic for at least 24 hours, and don't have a fever. 

  • Take antibiotic medicine for the full 10 days, even if you feel better. This is very important to make sure the infection is treated completely. It's also important to prevent medicine-resistant germs from developing. If you were given an antibiotic shot, you don't need any more antibiotics.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain or fever unless another medicine was prescribed for this. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease or if you have had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

  • Throat lozenges or sprays help reduce pain. Gargling with warm saltwater will also ease throat pain. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 glass of warm water. This may be useful just before meals. 

  • Soft foods and cool or warm fluids are best. Don't eat salty or spicy foods.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider if you don't get better over the next week.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Ear pain, sinus pain, or headache that is new or gets worse

  • Painful lumps in the back of neck

  • Stiff neck

  • Lymph nodes getting larger or becoming soft in the middle

  • You have trouble swallowing liquids or you can't open your mouth wide because of throat pain

  • Signs of dehydration. These include very dark urine or no urine, sunken eyes, and dizziness.

  • Noisy breathing

  • Muffled voice

  • Rash

Call 911

Call 911right away if either of these occur:

  • Have trouble breathing

  • Can't swallow or talk


Here are steps you can take to help prevent an infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean, running water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Don’t have close contact with people who have sore throats, colds, or other upper respiratory infections.

  • Don’t smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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