The scratchy, burning pain of a sore throat can make life miserable. From sipping water to answering the phone, everyday tasks are suddenly painful challenges.
Another reason for pain in the throat or difficulty swallowing could be from globus phatyngeus, also known as globus sensation. While it’s common to think you may have strep throat, the bacterial infection can only be diagnosed by a throat swab test.
If you test positive for strep, it’s important to take any prescribed medications, including antibiotics, as not doing so can lead to serious health complications such as rheumatic fever or heart murmurs.
It usually takes only a day or two after starting antibiotics to feel better, but in the meantime, there are some things you can do to help ease the symptoms, including some quick and easy home remedies for strep throat.
What Causes Strep Throat
Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is caused by bacteria called group Astreptococcus, or Streptococcus pyogenes, which can seed the nose and throat.
You can get the infection from someone who is sick with strep, as it spreads through close contact with saliva.
Symptoms, which include fever, sore throat, red tonsils, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, typically begin one to three days after exposure and last seven to 10 days.
How to Test for Strep Throat at Home
The only way to know definitively if you have strep throat is through a rapid strep test administered by a healthcare provider or at your nearest GoHealth Urgent Care. And while home strep tests are available, they aren’t 100 percent accurate and can produce false-negative results.
You can examine your throat for signs of infection by looking in the mirror and saying, “Ahhh.” If you see white dots or patches in the back of your throat, or your tonsils are red and swollen, you may have strep throat and should see your doctor or go to your local GoHealth Urgent Care.
Home Remedies for Strep Throat
In addition to getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water, you can try the following home remedies, which are aimed at killing the bacteria that causes strep throat. Keep in mind, however, that the only way to cure strep throat is with antibiotics.
- Have antibacterial and antiviral effects and has been shown to protect against the risk of upper respiratory disorders and virus- and bacteria-induced respiratory infections on flights. Elderberry is available as a tea, and in capsule, powder, or liquid form.
- Are best known for its ability to prevent the common cold, but research suggests it may also stop the spread of bacterial conditions like strep throat. Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help relieve pain related to strep throat. Take echinacea in liquid form, as a tea, or in capsule form as soon as symptoms appear.
- Can boost your immune system as well as kill infections already in your body. If you have strep throat, boost your vitamin C consumption by taking a supplement and eating foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, kale, strawberries, grapefruit, and kiwi.
- Deficiency has been linked to respiratory infections, and research has shown it plays an important role in the immune system.
- Raise antioxidant levels in the body, which helps boost the immune system, and its consistency has long been used to ease sore throats. Studies have found that medical-grade honey can fight some of the bacteria that cause infections.
- Can keep you hydrated when a sore throat makes it difficult to swallow other foods. It also provides minerals that boost the immune system and help reduce swelling and pain. Drinking warm bone broth made from protein powder throughout the day can help ease the symptoms of strep throat.
- Strep throat can help ease pain and treat inflammation. Chamomile tea has antioxidants that help reduce pain, congestion, swelling, and redness, while dandelion tea may help fight infection while boosting your immune system.
- Have powerful healing compounds such as acetic acid, which can kill harmful bacteria while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Also can help soothe symptoms while being gentle on sore throats.
- Can reduce swelling in the throat, while its naturally occurring menthol provides a cooling and calming sensation. Mix 1 to 2 drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water and drink it or apply 1 to 2 drops to the skin around your throat, chest, and temples.
- Have antibacterial properties and has been shown to limit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Add 1 to 2 drops to a glass of water or herbal tea.
- Are a common home remedy for strep throat symptoms. Research has shown it’s effective in killing bacteria taken from patients with oral and respiratory infections. Add 1 to 2 drops of thyme oil to a glass of water and gargle or add thyme oil to your bath for relief of body aches.
Other Things to Try
- Salt: Can soothe a sore throat, reduce painful swelling, and kill bacteria present in your mouth. The salt’s antibacterial properties are also known to improve respiratory conditions. Mix 1/4 teaspoon (1.42 grams) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water. Be sure to spit out the liquid after gargling.
- Coconut oil: Has been shown to reduce the presence of strep bacteria and other toxins in the mouth. Swish 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth for at least 10 minutes, then spit it out, rinse your mouth, and brush your teeth.
Will Strep Throat Go Away on Its Own?
We highly recommend being seen by a provider if you are concerned you may have strep throat. Strep throat typically goes away in three to seven days with or without antibiotic treatment. However, if you don’t take antibiotics, you can remain contagious for two to three weeks and are at a higher risk for complications, such as rheumatic fever.
What’re more, complications resulting from the bacterial infection can lead to increased susceptibility to other viral infections like influenza which can be fatal.
Pro Tip: If you have been diagnosed with strep throat, you can help prevent repeat infections by changing your and your family’s toothbrushes and thoroughly disinfecting all surfaces that may have been in contact with the strep virus.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant