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 contagious illness. 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 is worse with swallowing, aching all over, headache, swollen lymph nodes at the front of the neck, and red swollen tonsils sometimes with white patches and fever. It's treated with antibiotic medicine. This should help you start to feel better in 1 to 2 days.

Home care

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

  • No work or school for the first 2 days of taking the antibiotics. You can then 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 ensure 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 gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Throat lozenges or sprays help reduce pain. Gargling with warm saltwater will also reduce 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 or our staff if you don't get better over the next week.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away or get immediate medical care if any of these occur:

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

  • New or worsening ear pain, sinus pain, or headache

  • 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 you:

  • 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.

© 2000-2021 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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