Sore throats are one of the most common problems we see in urgent care. So how do you know when a sore throat requires medical attention? What exactly is strep throat? What tests do we use to identify strep throat and choose the right treatment?
We’re glad you asked! Here’s everything you need to know about strep.
What are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?
The key symptoms of strep throat are sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and the absence of nasal congestion or cough.
How Common is Strep Throat?
In adults, viruses account for 85-95% of sore throats, and in children, viruses account for 70% of sore throats. This means that most sore throats do not require antibiotic treatment; the majority will go away on their own within 7-10 days without causing any serious complications.
How is Strep Diagnosed?
The first step in strep testing is called a “rapid strep test.” This rapid test runs in five minutes. If it’s positive, no more testing is required, since the diagnosis has been confirmed and it’s clear that the patient needs an antibiotic.
If the rapid strep test is negative but the clinician is still concerned that it could be strep, a throat culture is done, where a throat swab is sent to the lab for more detailed testing, which takes 2-3 days. If the throat culture is positive, then antibiotics are indicated. If the throat culture does not grow out any strep bacteria, then the culture is negative.
Why is Strep Throat Treated with Antibiotics?
If you or a family member has symptoms that could indicate strep, it’s important to have a medical evaluation and undergo testing for strep. Because if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics promptly, the antibodies to the Group A Strep bacteria circulate through the bloodstream and cause problems with heart valves, kidneys, skin, and joints.
If My Throat Feels Better, Can I Stop the Antibiotic?
In most cases, strep throat symptoms improve or resolve after a few days of antibiotics. However, even if the symptoms go away, it’s important to finish the full course of antibiotics, since strep can cause the complications mentioned above if it’s not completely eradicated.
We're Here to Help.
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here seven days a week to care for you and your family, with rapid strep testing offered at each of our locations. Save your spot online at a nearby center and our team of excellent medical professionals will take care of you!