Where Can I Get A Strep Throat Test?

Sore throats come in all forms, from a tickle in the back of the throat to severe pain when swallowing. If you wake up with a bad sore throat and have all the symptoms of strep throat, like pain when swallowing, it may be wise to get a rapid strep test so that you can properly treat the infection if it's positive. But getting a strep throat test doesn't have to mean long doctor visits. In fact, you can even take a strep test from the privacy of home without getting off of the couch. 


Most sore throats are actually caused by viral agents, like the flu or the common cold. Strep throat is an infection of the tonsils and throat caused by a bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. Because symptoms are very similar to viral infections, the only way to know for sure if it is strep is to take a strep test. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 out of every 10 children with a sore throat actually tested positive for strep. That means the cause of the sore throat was probably viral, not bacterial, and antibiotics won't help. 


What Exactly is a Strep Throat Test?

There are two types of strep throat tests that detect if group A streptococcus bacteria are present. 


  1. Rapid Strep Test: A rapid antigen test is the quickest way to know if you have strep. It can identify a case in under ten minutes.
  2. Throat Culture: The second type of strep test is usually only given if the rapid test is negative. This test looks for strep A bacteria as well, but it is sent out to a lab for a more accurate diagnosis than a rapid test, but it can take up to three days to get the results. 


Where to Get A Strep Throat Test; You have a few options.

  1. At home: We recommend keeping a few at-home strep throat test kits on hand. Early detection at home can get you the correct diagnosis fast, saving valuable time and money making unnecessary trips to the doctor. Plus, getting treatment at the onset of signs can help shorten the duration of symptoms, so you and/or your kids can get back to your schedules but, most importantly, feel better. 
  2. Your nearby pharmacy: A pharmacist should be able to administer a rapid antigen test if they have a clinic, such as CVS or Walgreens. If your test is negative, but all symptoms point to strep, they may suggest seeing your primary care physician or pediatrician for a throat culture. They usually accept walk-ins.
  3. Any urgent care center: Your local urgent care center offers rapid antigen tests and can most likely perform throat cultures. They usually accept walk-ins.
  4. Doctor's office: Either your primary care physician or pediatrician can do both tests. You may have difficulty getting an appointment or have long waits.
  5. ER: If all of the above is not an option and you are having difficulty breathing because of swollen tonsils, head to your closest emergency room. They will be able to test and prescribe medication.


If either test were positive, a doctor would prescribe a 10-day supply of antibiotics. Patients should start to feel improvement after 24 hours of their first dose. If negative, then antibiotics are not needed, just get plenty of rest and stay hydrated!