How Long Is Strep Throat Contagious

If you’ve ever suffered from that painful, scratchy throat that lingers, you’ve probably wondered: How long is strep throat contagious? Strep throat stops being contagious 24 hours after antibiotic treatment is ingested. But, before antibiotic treatment, this condition is highly contagious; if left untreated, it can stay in your system, and stay contagious, weeks after the symptoms vanish.

Strep Throat
Strep throat is a Group A Streptococcus bacteria infection of the throat and tonsils. The infection occurs most frequently in children and teenagers, but anyone can catch strep throat. Strep throat infections usually last about one week, sometimes less if treatment is obtained. Sometimes strep throat is mistaken for simple tonsillitis, which has some similar symptoms. If a fever is present, though, strep throat is a strong possibility.

Strep Throat Symptoms

  • The physical symptoms of strep throat can include a sudden fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty swallowing and a loss of appetite, as well as abdominal or muscle pain.
  • The visual symptoms of strep throat can include a red throat, white or yellow pus on the throat or tonsils, red spots of the back of the mouth and a rash.

Strep Throat Diagnosis
While there are some conditions you might think you can self-diagnose, strep throat is not one of them. Untreated strep throat can lead to kidney inflammation, rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, toxic shock syndrome, mastoiditis and other ailments. It’s too dangerous to take a chance by not obtaining medical treatment. You need to visit a doctor and get a strep test for a sure diagnosis. If the strep throat test doesn't work, you may need to do a throat culture to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Strep Throat Treatment
If you catch the strep throat early enough, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent spreading the infection. However, if you let the strep throat go on too long, you'll just have to wait until the symptoms disappear. Different antibiotics are used to fight strep throat; penicillin is the most commonly prescribed. Amoxicillin and erythromycin are also widely used for strep throat.

Strep Throat Prevention
The best way to prevent strep throat is to avoid contact with anyone contagious. If exposure cannot be eliminated, it's important to keep things clean and sanitary. Make sure to wash your hands well after contact with any person or any item that may be infected. This includes towels, doorknobs and pillows. Never share cups, utensils, toothbrushes or lip makeup with anyone infected with strep throat. 

Since strep throat is common in school-age children, it is important to teach them how important it is to wash their hands thoroughly. Because it eliminates the bacteria before they have a chance to invade the body, this simple practice can be very effective in helping children avoid coming down with strep throat.

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