Will Strep Throat Actually Go Away On Its Own?

Will Strep Throat Actually Go Away On Its Own?

Whether to take meds or not to take meds, that is the question. There's a bit of a debate about whether strep throat can go away by itself without taking antibiotics. The short answer here is yes, but that could come with a slew of other problems. Strep throat will typically go away in three to seven days with or without antibiotic treatment. However, if you don't take antibiotics, you can remain contagious for two to three weeks and are at a higher risk for complications and more severe conditions.


Now, let's take a deeper dive here. If you or your child suffers from a sore throat, don't panic! You may be able to skip the meds if it is just from the common cold, allergies, or flu. Most sore throats are actually caused by viral agents, leaving about a quarter of cases attributed to bacteria or strep throat. Strep throat is an infection of the tonsils and throat caused by a bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. Strep infections are detected approximately among 30% of children who have sore throat symptoms. Because symptoms are very similar to viral infections, the only way to know for sure if it is indeed strep is to take a strep test.


It is important to know what you're dealing with for a number of reasons, including:


  1. Strep is highly contagious, and antibiotics can shorten the duration
  2. If viral, antibiotics won't help and may cause resistance to them in the future
  3. If left untreated, strep can cause more severe illnesses


Although the majority of sore throat infections do resolve without medications, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those with confirmed strep throat get treated with antibiotics. Strep throat infection symptoms can resolve themselves without treatment in about 4 to 5 days. However, antibiotics should be administered within nine days of the first symptom to contain the spread and help guard against more severe complications.

Positive Vs. Negative Strep Tests

If your test is negative, skip the antibiotics. Exposure to too many antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, a problem that causes 23,000 deaths each year because bacterial growth can no longer be controlled or killed by an antibiotic. With that said, if you have trouble swallowing, have swollen tonsils and glands, see white dots in the back of your throat (pus), and have a fever, there's a good chance it is strep throat. A rapid strep test at home or at your doctor's office can get your results in under 10 minutes. If the strep throat test is positive, antibiotics are prescribed to prevent other illnesses, such as rheumatic fever, not to treat the strep itself. Also, after the initial 24 hours of taking antibiotics, people are not considered contagious anymore and can go back to work or school faster.

If left untreated (no antibiotics), strep throat infections can lead to a group of life-threatening complications that include;

  • Retropharyngeal and peritonsillar abscess
  • Sepsis
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis
  • Acute Rheumatic fever
  • Other bacterial infections like sinus or ear infections
  • Complications from bacterial infections can lead to increased susceptibility to viral infections like influenza

Home Remedies If You Want to Skip the Antibiotics

If you have been diagnosed with strep throat, it is recommended to start a full course of antibiotic treatment to help prevent the spread and possible complications. However, there are home remedies you can try to help prevent repeat infections and soothe your (or your little one's) symptoms.


  • Change everyone's toothbrushes regularly
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing
  • Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help to relieve the pain related to strep throat and reduce fever.
  • Try supplements like apple cider vinegar which has powerful healing compounds that kill dangerous bacteria
  • Elderberry and echinacea have anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent the spread of bacterial conditions and boost your immune system
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, kale, strawberries, grapefruit, and kiwi
  • Gargle with Himalayan salt to reduce swelling and increase the pH balance of your mouth, making it harder for bacteria to survive


So to recap, yes, strep throat can go away by itself without taking antibiotics, but if you are diagnosed with strep for sure, why take the chance of further complications and spread it to others. Antibiotics do work and help when medically necessary. So, get a strep test before making a judgment call.