Doctor On Demand

Free from the App Store

Get the App

Q&A with Dr. Cottrell – Is strep throat contagious?

Dr. Amy Cottrell is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is an active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Memphis with a degree in Biology. She then received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and finished her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Is strep throat contagious?

The bacteria that causes strep throat is passed through oral and nasal secretions when breathing, coughing, sneezing, or contacting infected surfaces, like doorknobs and tables. It is also passed on by sharing food and drinks. This is why it is so important for kids and adults alike to wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing meals or drinks when they are sick. You are typically contagious for two to three weeks if not treated, but this is reduced to 24 hours after starting antibiotics. Viruses also cause symptoms that can mimic strep throat, and your Doctor on Demand physician can help figure out the best treatment for you. Remember, viruses aren’t treated with antibiotics, but the precautions to prevent the spread are the same.

The pain and fever related to the infection can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or tylenol. Salt water gargles, warm tea with honey or chicken soup also help alleviate sore throat pain. Popsicles and ice cream are another favorite and effective intervention for sore throat pain. You will likely need to adjust your diet to soft foods like jello, yogurt, oatmeal or warm pasta. Hydration is a very important part of the treatment for any infection, especially when there is fever. You should also replace your toothbrush after 2-3 days on to prevent re-infection.