Scratchy throat due to strep infection can leave you miserable, but the fear of spreading it to your loved ones is an added source of pressure. Learning about how long strep throat is contagious is needed to keep your mind at rest. Let’s discuss this further.

How Long Does Strep Throat Last?

Strep throat is contagious for different durations and depends heavily on whether antibiotics are taken or not:

  1. Without the use of antibiotics: If left untreated, those with strep throat may remain contagious for as long as 2 weeks. Additionally, they can spread the bacteria for this much time too.
  2. With antibiotics: As soon as you start taking antibiotics for strep throat, the level of contagiousness becomes less in about 24 hours. After starting treatment, the spread period significantly decreases.
    On its own, strep throat typically can last for about 7-10 days. More often than not, symptoms improve between the day 3 and day 4 with most patients feeling worse for 2-3 days before starting to feel better.

    Antibiotic treatment for strep throat typically lasts for ten days, and people are considered fully recovered and no longer contagious after this period. However, one must be very vigilant and complete the full course of antibiotics even if one starts feeling better. If the medications are not finished, complete the course to prevent a recurrence of the infection and ensure the effectiveness of the treatment.

Symptoms That Show Up

Strep throat symptoms include:

  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tummy ache
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Rash that starts on the neck and chest and spreads across the whole body
  • Loss of appetite
  • White patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils
  • Fever that begins suddenly and is often highest on the second day
  • Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth (petechiae)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
  • Less common symptoms may include vomiting and headache

A word of caution: Symptoms DO NOT include cough, runny nose, hoarseness, or pink eye.

When Should You See a Doctor?

You should get in touch with a doctor for strep throat if you experience symptoms like a sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever that is not going down, etc. Seeking medical attention is crucial since untreated strep throat is contagious, can spread to other people, and lead to serious health complications such as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and other issues.

Closing Note

In a nutshell, you must talk to a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect to have strep throat. Instead of deducing the signs and symptoms on your own, ask for professional help for accurate diagnosis and treatment plans. Although not all causes need emergency help yet it is better not to self-diagnose. If you have more questions, we urge you to contact our expert, Dr. Rajesh Maheshwari, MD, at San Ramon Urgent Care Clinic for help at (925) 361-5959.

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