Antibiotics for Strep Throat

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Strep throat is highly contagious, and the most common way to catch strep throat is through contact with a person that is infected. For example, close contact through quarters like day care centers, college dormitories, schools, military facilities, and families are common environments for the transmission of strep throat from person to person.

Antibiotics are needed if a physician or healthcare provider diagnoses the individual with strep throat, which is caused by bacteria. In order to diagnose strep throat, a lab test must be performed. When the diagnosis of strep throat is confirmed by laboratory testing or when it is highly suspected clinically, antibiotics are generally prescribed. If taken early, antibiotics can help decrease the duration of symptoms, and they can also make individuals less contagious within 24 hours of starting the treatment. More importantly, antibiotics are effective in preventing the uncommon complications of strep throat. Antibiotics are prescribed for strep throat to prevent rheumatic fever.

Side Effects of Antibiotics May Include:

  • A skin rash.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.

Rare cases or life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis) might include hives, shortness of breath, and shock.

The normal bacteria in your body can also be changed by antibiotics. This can lead to complications such as:

  • A vaginal yeast infection.
  • An infection of the intestines caused by Clostridium difficile bacteria.

Symptoms of Strep Throat

The throat can become swollen and red with strep throat infection. Patches of white may be evident on the back of the throat near the tonsils, indicating the presence of pus. The occurrence of fever, swollen and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, and the white spots or patches on the tonsils along with the nonexistence of a cough suggest the diagnosis of strep pharyngitis. With strep tonsillopharyngitis, all of these signs do not need to be present. However, their existence is not explicit to just strep throat.

The most evident signs of strep throat infection are:

  • fever
  • swollen, tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck
  • visible white spots on the tonsils and throat

Other more non-specific signs of strep throat are:

  • sudden onset of a sore throat
  • headache
  • painful when swallowing
  • nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain,
  • red and swollen soft palate

Antibiotics for Strep Throat

The antibiotics that are generally recommended include:

Penicillin - This is often the first choice of antibiotic for strep throat. It is effective, inexpensive and can be administered by mouth for 10 days, or a one-time injection can be given for patients who may not be able to endure oral medications. Penicillin by-products, such as amoxicillin, are also just as effective.

Cephalosporin - This class of antibiotics is considered the best alternative to penicillin when treating strep throat.

Macrolides -This type of antibiotic, which includes erythromycin, azithromycin (Zithromax, Z-Pak, etc.) and clarithromycin (Biaxin), is generally given to patients who have an allergy to penicillin.

Side Effects

Side effects of antibiotics may include:

  • A skin rash.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.

Rare cases or life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis) might include hives, shortness of breath, and shock.

The normal bacteria in your body can also be changed by antibiotics. This can lead to complications such as:

  • A vaginal yeast infection.
  • An infection of the intestines caused by Clostridium difficile bacteria.

References

Cdc.gov: Antibiotic Use

emedicinehealth.com: Strep Throat

webmd.com: Antibiotics for Strep Throat

medicinenet.com: Strep Throat