Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Strep throat can be a painful, annoying problem. It is a throat infection caused by bacteria, and it can make your throat feel as though it is on fire. Though anyone can get it, strep throat is most common among those between the ages of five and fifteen. Is strep throat contagious? Very much so – and it can spread quickly, especially in places like schools or churches. It is very important to get strep throat treated promptly, as serious cases can result in kidney inflammation, rheumatic fever and other secondary conditions.

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Unfortunately, yes – strep throat is highly contagious. That's because the bacteria that causes it can be easily spread through airborne droplets. A simple sneeze or cough is enough to send those droplets flying, and they can infect anyone who comes into contact with them. Therefore, those who are in close quarters, such as a classroom, daycare, college dorm or the like, will probably get strep throat if someone else in the area has it.

In fact, experts say that the risk of contracting strep throat in your own home is about 40%. Some studies have shown that it can be transmitted via food, though that is much less common. In some cases, even family pets have been shown to spread the bacteria to other family members.

How Long Will Strep Throat Be Contagious?

Now that you know the answer to “Is strep throat contagious?” another question comes about:"How long it can be spread from one person to another?" Strep throat is “silent” during the first two to five days; this means that you can have the bacteria but not yet have the symptoms. During that time, you can spread the bacteria to others already. Once you have the symptoms, you are even more contagious and should take precautions to protect others. Most experts believe that after 24 hours of a strong antibiotic, the bacteria is no longer contagious – but keep taking precautions, just in case.

How to Diagnose Strep Throat

In many cases, a doctor can simply look at your throat and tell you whether you have strep throat. But to be absolutely sure, there are two methods of determining it: A throat culture and a rapid antigen test.

  • ŸThe throat culture is simply a swab rubbed over the back of the throat and then tested for the bacteria.
  • ŸThe rapid antigen test is a faster test on the swab. It will look for the antigens in the throat to give a quick answer about whether you have strep throat or not. But sometimes, it can miss some infections.

If anyone turns to be positive, antibiotics will be started right away.

What to Do If Infected with Strep Throat

There are several things you can do if you are diagnosed with strep throat. There are just a few of the options that might make you feel better:

1.  OTC Drugs

Over the counter drugs can be used to make you feel better while the infection runs its course. These include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin and other basic painkillers. Be warned, however, never give aspirin to children, as it can result in a serious condition known as Reye's Syndrome.

2.  Antibiotics

This is the most common and most effective treatment for strep throat. Drugs in the penicillin family are the most common treatments, followed by drugs in the macrolide family. Those who are prescribed antibiotics should always take the full dose, so they can be assured of getting better. Never stop an antibiotic simply because the worst of the symptoms have gone away.

3.  Home Remedies

If wanting to make you feel better at home, try drinking cool water or gargling with warm saltwater mixture. You can also turn to soothing remedies, such as ice cream or popsicles. Warm tea with honey is also helpful (but never give honey to a child under one year of age). Finally, simple throat lozenges and cough drops can help ease the hurt.

Avoid the Spreading of Strep Throat

Is strep throat contagious? Yes, very much so. So how do you keep the bacteria away from others if you have infected with it? Stay at home if you are been diagnosed for at least 24 hours to allow the antibiotic time to kill the bacteria. Wash all your plates and eating utensils very well, and don't share food, drinks, towels, or anything similar with others. Keep strep to yourself, wash your hands often, and never sneeze or cough without a napkin or cloth covering your face. 

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