Healthy Living

How Contagious is Strep Throat?

Feb 21 2024

How contagious is strep throat, you may be wondering. Turns out, very contagious!

First things first, strep throat is a common illness caused by bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. It affects the throat and tonsils, leading to symptoms like sore throat, fever and difficulty swallowing. Other common symptoms are red or white patches on the tongue or in the back of the mouth as well as swollen lymph nodes.

A strep throat infection is more common in children than adults, but adults can definitely still get infected.

So, how contagious is strep throat?

Strep throat is highly contagious. This means it can easily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. It can also spread by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the bacteria and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of strep throat and to seek testing as well as treatment if you think you have it. You can get a test for strep throat at your primary care provider’s office.

However, what if you or your child needs to get tested over a holiday, the weekend or another time when your primary care provider is not available? In that case, urgent care locations are also a great option.

The treatment for strep throat is a course of antibiotics. Both your primary care provider and an urgent care location can provide them.

What is the incubation period for strep throat?

The incubation period for strep throat is typically two to five days. This means that after being exposed to the bacteria, it may take a few days for symptoms to appear. However, during this incubation period, a person can unknowingly spread the infection to others.

If you do come down with strep throat and don’t treat it, there are many severe health problems it can lead to. One of those is a rheumatic fever, or a fever that inflames the joints, skin, heart and brain. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 years old are most commonly impacted by rheumatic fevers.

Can you be around people if you have strep throat?

If you have strep throat, it’s essential to take precautions to prevent spreading it to others.

This includes:

  • Staying home: It’s best to stay home from school or work and away from others until you’ve been on an antibiotic treatment for at least 24 hours and are feeling better. This helps reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
  • Practice good hygiene: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing or touching your face.
  • Avoid sharing personal items: Avoid sharing utensils, drinking glasses or personal items with others to prevent spreading the bacteria.
  • Clean and disinfect: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects around the house, such as doorknobs, light switches and electronic devices.

How long does it take to get over strep throat?

With proper treatment, most individuals with strep throat start to feel better within a few days of starting antibiotics. However, it’s essential to complete the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider to ensure the infection is fully treated and to prevent complications.

In addition to antibiotics, getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated and using over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery.

It is when the course of antibiotics is over that your strep throat is typically gone. So, with treatment, it should take you about seven to 10 days to fully recover from strep throat.

So, how contagious is strep throat? We hope we’ve helped you answer this question as well as a few more.

Learn more about strep throat as well as the primary care and urgent care services we provide at Mercy Health.

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