How Long Does Strep Throat Last?

Published on: May 7, 2023 (Last modified on: August 4, 2023)
Woman suffering from pain and discomfort due to strep throat.

Many illnesses can cause a sore throat but if you have a throat infection, it can cause serious complications. Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is contagious and may cause more than just discomfort. How long does strep throat last? It depends on whether or not you get treatment.

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by a bacteria called streptococci that can infect the tissues within the throat. The infection can cause the tissues to become inflamed, which can make it difficult or painful to swallow. The throat may feel raw and burning other symptoms may accompany the sore throat:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
  • Swollen or red tonsils
  • Fever
  • Pus around the tonsils

One symptom that is usually absent is a cough. A cough with a sore throat usually means the cough is causing the sore throat due to a cold, flu or other condition

The only way to know if you have strep throat or some other illness causing similar symptoms is to have a throat culture performed by a medical provider. The culture can be sent to a lab to test for strep throat or rapid tests can be completed at many doctor’s offices that give quick results.

Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, it should be taken seriously. Unlike viral infections which tend to run their course like colds or the flu, bacterial infections are prone to becoming worse over time. If you wonder. “How low does strep last?”, it depends on whether or not you receive treatment.

What Is the Treatment for Strep Throat?

If you test positive for strep throat, your doctor will recommend treatment to stop the infection. For most cases, this will include antibiotics to stop the infection. Not only will this shorten the duration of the infection, but it can stop the spread and reduce the risk of complications.

How Long Will Strep Throat Last With Antibiotics?

The good news is that most strep throat cases can be effectively treated with antibiotics if you receive the medication before it spreads. When you have symptoms of strep throat, you should see a doctor for testing and receive a prescription for a stint of antibiotics if you test positive.

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In most cases, you will see an improvement in your strep throat symptoms once you start taking your antibiotics for a few days. However, this does not mean that the infection is gone. There could still be lingering bacteria that need to be completely irradicated to stop the infection.

Strep throat can be completely treated with a full round of antibiotics. Most antibiotic treatments for strep throat are seven to ten days, but you should always complete the entire treatment as prescribed by your doctor to ensure the infection is completely gone.

How Long Will Strep Throat Last Without Antibiotics?

If you have strep throat and do not receive treatment, you could have long-term complications. Your symptoms can worsen, and you may have a high fever, chills, nausea and other problems for weeks as the infection changes.

In many cases, bacterial infections like strep throat will go away on their own, but there can be complications. They require antibiotics to stop the infection and stop it from spreading or becoming worse. If you do not get antibiotics for strep throat, it can transform into scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever is a complication of strep throat that can have lasting consequences and has been known to cause damage to the heart. Not only does it cause serious health problems, but these issues can last for months, years, or a lifetime.

How long does strep throat last? That depends on whether it is diagnosed and treated or not. If you get diagnosed quickly and receive antibiotics, you may only have symptoms for a few days, and they can be completely gone within two weeks if you follow your doctor’s recommendations.

In the worst-case scenario, strep throat can last for months and may lead to other worse infections. If it becomes rheumatic fever, you could be very ill and may need hospitalization. Some people have effects that can last the rest of their life, extending the longevity of strep throat complications.
A doctor examining a woman with strep throat.

When to See a Doctor for Strep Throat

A sore throat on its own is usually not a cause for concern. You may just have strained your larynx or may have a cold. But if you have other symptoms that are common with strep throat, you should see a doctor for a strep test. This can quickly determine if you should get treatment.

While strep throat can go away on its own, it is not worth risking a more serious illness. See your doctor if you have strep throat symptoms to determine whether or not you need antibiotics.

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