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How to Take Care of Yourself When You Have Strep Throat

Strep throat is a common and painful infection that affects the throat and tonsils. It is caused by a type of bacteria called group A streptococcus (GAS), which can spread through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. Strep throat can affect anyone, but it is more common in children and teenagers.

Strep throat can cause symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen and red tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash (in some cases)

If you have these symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can diagnose strep throat by doing a physical exam and a throat swab test. If you have strep throat, they will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent complications. Complications of strep throat can include:

  • Ear infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart, joints, and skin
  • Kidney inflammation
  • Abscess around the tonsils
  • Scarlet fever, which is a rash that spreads over the body

Antibiotics can help you feel better within 24 to 48 hours, but you should finish the entire course as prescribed by your provider. This will ensure that you get rid of the infection completely and avoid spreading it to others. You should also stay home from work, school, or other activities until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking any fever-reducing medications.

In addition to taking antibiotics, there are some self-care remedies that can help you relieve the pain and discomfort of strep throat. Here are some tips that you can try at home:

Drink plenty of fluids

Staying hydrated is important for your overall health and recovery. Drinking fluids can help you prevent dehydration, soothe your throat, and flush out toxins. You can drink water, herbal teas, soups, broths, or warm beverages with honey and lemon. Avoid drinks that are too hot, cold, acidic, or caffeinated, as they can irritate your throat.

Gargle with salt water

Gargling with salt water can help you reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and loosen mucus in your throat. To make a salt water solution, mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces (1 cup) of warm water. Gargle with this solution for a few seconds and spit it out. Repeat this several times a day, especially after eating or drinking.

Use a humidifier or a vaporizer

Dry air can make your throat feel worse, so you may want to add some moisture to the air in your room. You can use a humidifier or a vaporizer to create a mist of warm or cool water that you can breathe in. This can help you moisten your throat and ease your breathing. You can also add some essential oils, such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or lavender, to the water for extra benefits. Make sure to clean your humidifier or vaporizer regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.

Suck on lozenges or hard candies

Sucking on lozenges or hard candies can help you stimulate saliva production, which can lubricate your throat and reduce dryness. You can choose lozenges or candies that contain menthol, honey, or lemon, which can also have a soothing effect. However, avoid giving lozenges or hard candies to young children, as they can pose a choking hazard.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers

If you have a fever or a headache, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), to lower your temperature and ease your discomfort. Follow the directions on the label and do not exceed the recommended dose. Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers, as it can cause a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.

Eat soft and bland foods

Eating can be difficult and painful when you have strep throat, so you may want to stick to soft and bland foods that are easy to swallow. Some examples are:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cooked rice or pasta
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Smoothies

Avoid foods that are spicy, crunchy, acidic, or salty, as they can aggravate your throat. You may also want to cut your food into small pieces or puree it in a blender to make it easier to eat.

Rest and relax

Getting enough rest and sleep is essential for your body to heal and fight off the infection. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night and take naps during the day if you feel tired. You can also do some relaxing activities, such as reading, listening to music, meditating, or doing gentle yoga, to reduce your stress and improve your mood.


Here are some frequently asked questions about strep throat and self-care:

Q: How long does strep throat last?

A: Strep throat usually lasts for about 3 to 7 days, depending on how quickly you start treatment and how well you follow your provider’s instructions. You should start feeling better within 24 to 48 hours of taking antibiotics, but you should continue taking them until you finish the course. If you stop taking antibiotics too soon, you may not get rid of the infection completely and you may increase your risk of developing complications or resistance.

Q: How can I prevent getting strep throat?

A: The best way to prevent getting strep throat is to avoid contact with people who have it. If you are around someone who has strep throat, you should wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing utensils, cups, or toothbrushes, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. You should also keep your immune system strong by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing your stress.

Q: When should I see a doctor for strep throat?

A: You should see a doctor for strep throat if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • A sore throat that lasts more than a week
  • A fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C)
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Severe throat pain or swelling
  • A rash that spreads over the body
  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • White patches or pus on your tonsils
  • A history of rheumatic fever or heart problems

These could indicate a more serious condition or a complication of strep throat that requires immediate medical attention.


Strep throat is a common and painful infection that can be treated with antibiotics and self-care remedies. By following your provider’s instructions and taking care of yourself at home, you can speed up your recovery and prevent complications. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, gargle with salt water, use a humidifier or a vaporizer, suck on lozenges or hard candies, take over-the-counter pain relievers, eat soft and bland foods, and rest and relax. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.

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