Home remedies for strep throat symptoms

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.

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 disease.

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

Also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A strep, or streptococcus pyogenes, which can infect the nose and throat. You can get the infection from someone sick with strep, as it spreads through close contact with saliva.

Strep symptoms include fever, sore throat, red tonsils, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. Symptoms typically begin one to three days after exposure and last seven to ten days.

How to test for strep throat at home

The only way to determine if you have strep throat is through a strep test administered by a healthcare provider at your nearest urgent care center. While home strep tests are available, they aren’t 100% 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 urgent care.

Home remedies for strep throat

Sore throat is not the same as strep throat, as strep is a bacterial infection, yet many sore throat remedies can also help ease the symptoms of strep throat.

In addition to getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water, the only thing known to kill bacteria for strep throat is antibiotics, so it's important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few strep throat home remedies that can help.


Getting enough sleep is essential for healing from any illness. Aim to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night and more if you are not feeling well. 


While drinking can be painful, you must stay hydrated when you are not feeling well. Keeping your throat hydrated can ease pain when swallowing and prevent dehydration. 

Easy-to-swallow foods

Avoiding foods that are too dry, spicy, or acidic can ease throat pain. Instead, eat soft foods, soups, and broths that are easy to swallow.

Gargle with warm salt water 

Salt can soothe a sore throat, reduce painful swelling, and kill bacteria in your mouth. The antibacterial properties of salt are also known to improve respiratory conditions. Mix one-quarter teaspoon (1.42 grams) of table salt in eight ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water. Be sure to spit out the liquid after gargling.


A teaspoon of honey on its own or mixed with a warm cup of tea can help soothe a sore throat. 

Use a humidifier

Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can keep your throat and nose hydrated, easing pain.

Avoid smoke and other irritations to the lungs

Smoke or other chemicals in your environment can irritate the lungs, throat, and nose. If you are struggling with a sore throat, try to avoid smoking yourself or secondhand smoke if possible.

Will strep throat go away on its own?

We highly recommend being seen by a healthcare 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's 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.

Strep throat symptoms FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about strep throat.

What is usually the first symptom of strep throat?

Throat pain and fever are the first symptoms of strep throat, which can come on quickly. Red tonsils and white patches in the back of the throat may soon follow.

What can be mistaken for strep throat?

Viral illnesses such as the flu, COVID-19, and the common cold may also cause a sore throat and be mistaken for strep throat. 

How contagious is strep throat?

Strep throat is highly contagious, especially in places where many people are close together, such as daycare centers or schools. 

How long does strep throat last without antibiotics? 

Strep throat will last three to seven days without antibiotics. But leaving strep throat untreated can lead to complications and predispose you to other illnesses. Therefore, it is best to seek treatment. 

When to visit urgent care for strep throat symptoms

For persistent sore throats with fever, seeing a healthcare provider for testing and treatment is advisable. While home remedies for strep throat may offer temporary relief, antibiotics often lead to quicker recovery.

Our urgent care centers are ready to diagnose and treat sore throats. Locate the nearest center and either walk in or reserve your spot online.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/strep-throat/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350344
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/strep-throat

By Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant on January 3rd, 2024
Medically reviewed by J.D Zipkin, MD, MA, FAAP