Antibiotics More Harm Than Good For Strep Throat?

One of EP Monthly’s newest contributors, Dr. David Newman (of the “Hippocrates’ Shadow” fame), sets out a compelling case for why antibiotics may do more harm than good when treating strep throats. The results of the studies showing that antibiotics prevent rheumatic fever may surprise you.

This article is another example of the medical profession needing to examine treatments we consider as “standard of care” to determine whether the treatments are effective and whether the risk of the treatments outweighs the benefit of their use.

Also an interesting discussion in the comments section of the article on whether antibiotics prevent glomerulonephritis or retropharyngeal abscesses. Chris Carpenter, who is an EBM guru, responds to those questions as well.

ER Stories also has some discussion on the topic. Embarassed to say that TK scooped me on an article on my own site.

Medscape recently published a short article containing updated guidelines for management of streptococcal pharyngitis.
Important points to note include the following:

  • Strep throat is self-limiting and resolves within a few days. [emphasis mine]
  • The rationale for antibiotic treatment is prevention of suppurative infection, prevention of rheumatic fever, and reduction of communicability
  • The antibiotic of choice is penicillin because no increase in resistance has been seen for the past 50 years
  • Despite appropriate antibiotic treatment, chronic strep colonization is common. Children can be chronic “strep” carriers (i.e. strep present on culture without any signs of infection) for up to 1 year after infection, but there is generally no need to treat chronic carriers because they are thought to be at low risk of transmitting disease or developing invasive GABHS infections. [again, emphasis mine]

In summary, strep throat will go away on its own without antibiotic treatment and we only treat to reduce side effects that don’t occur that much to begin with.
In addition, if we swab family members of people who have strep “just to make sure” they don’t have it too, when we give antibiotics to those with positive results, we’re probably treating patients who have been colonized and won’t benefit from antibiotics anyway.
Finally, a question. The article notes that there has been no increase in the resistance of Group A strep to penicillin in 50 years. There is not a consensus on this issue. If we assume that strep has not become resistant to penicillin, could it be that the strep infections we are “treating” with penicillin would just have gone away anyway and that the penicillin is just a “placebo”?
Looks like a great opportunity for a randomized study.

Another recent Medscape article highlights the strep treatment/rheumatic fever reduction issue.

60 Responses to “Antibiotics More Harm Than Good For Strep Throat?”

  1. Dr. Greenbbs says:

    wow…provocative…but will it really make a difference?

  2. throckmorton says:

    For what its worth. Not all sorethroat need antibotics but in one weekend we had 2 cases of rapidly progressive h.flu resulting in urgent intubation and eventual traches. Both patients were seen in an urgent cares center and sent out the day before without antibiotics.

    • MSNRN says:

      I agree. Not all sore throat complaints warrant anitibiotic treatment. In those 2 cases of H.flu, antibiotics would not have made a difference in their outcomes anyway; flu is viral, not bacterial. However, urgent care should have screened them for the flu. Maybe then complications could have been avoided.

      • James McKeith says:

        In this case, H Flu is short for H. Influenza which is a bacterial illness that responds to antibiotics. The name is confusing but I didn’t pick it.

      • Samantha says:

        H. Flu is a bacteria, not to be confuse with “the flu”.

  3. petunia says:

    My pet peeve is overuse of abx…

    I have informed my husband and kids over the past several years that they are no longer eligible for abx since they have never completed an entire course….

    They just don’t listen…

    (you would think, since they all suffered through my nursing education, that they’d have a little respect for my nursing wisdom)…

  4. paul says:

    getting people to accept that strep throat does not need antibiotics will be a huge uphill battle.

    i’ll have to look at your data for RHD prevention and make my own assessment of it, thanks for the link

  5. ladyk73 says:

    I had strep as a teen. I was pretty damn sick. I was in bed for a couple of days before my Mom sent me to the doctor. I don’t like the idea of people getting sick for a day and demanding an antibodic. But sometimes you just can’t fight it. I ended up with a huge rash. My mom thought it was from the antibodics or eating KIWI fruit. But seriously, as adult, I am pretty damn sure it was scarlet fever.

    • Cy Phy says:

      There is so much that we don’t understand about the lives of microbes, it’s almost dangerous that we have access to antimicrobials. The antibiotics that work as cell-wall inhibitors (beta lactams)often select for the development of cell-wall deficient bacteria (so-called “L-forms”), which are increasingly recognized as causing human disease.
      A quick example…antimicrobial treated strep infections are known to be related to the subsequent development of guttate psoriasis. It is also known that prolonged, high-dose antibiotic treatment is effective in treating chronic plaque psoriasis. This has been shown with both PCN and azithromycin. There is increasing evidence that sarcoidosis is treatable with antibiotics. It seems possible that many if not most of the medical conditions that we call “autoimmune,” especially anything with granuloma formation, are actually infectious diseases.
      So I think that we are well-advised to be very judicious in our prescriptions for antibiotics until we are able to understand more about resistance and cell-wall deficient forms.

  6. […] Antibiotics More Harm Than Good For Strep Throat? « WhiteCoat’s … […]

  7. Katie says:

    As a former microbiologist, nursing student and the daughter of a man who had rheumatic fever as a child, I’m very interested in the Medscape article you reference. However, I don’t have a pw for Medscape. Any chance you can give me the journal info so I can look it up through my school’s website?

  8. mimi says:

    I am not in the medical profession, and while I am sure that there might be some rationale for the argument, I wouldn’t chance not taking antibiotics for strep–EVER. Several years ago my friend died from heart failure, the direct result of an untreated strep infection. Then, last spring, my sister went into toxic shock/sepsis from a neglected strep throat. She nearly died. Multiple organs failing…it was awful. She was in intensive care for a week. With the increase of invasive group A strep infections these days, including the flesh eating bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis), not taking antibiotics for strep would be like playing Russian roulette. Strep is nothing to mess around with folks.

  9. Robbie says:

    Mimi is right…

    Strep can be severe, some people get pin prick white dots and some get white spots the size of quarters… this is dangerous. IF penicillin hasn’t show resistance… then whats the harm in going to the docs and being safer than sorrier.

  10. Chad says:

    My son is on the Austistic spectrum and has a very negative reaction to antibiotics – he is allergic to some antibiotics but even for those that he is not, his GI tract can’t take it. He had several bouts of strep last year and we are trying to avoid it this year – any advice on steps we can take to prevent him from getting strep/strengthen his immune system? (He already is on vitamin supplements per his nutritionist’s recommendation)


    • mike says:

      make sure you get him a tosillectomy that will reduce the recurrance of strep throat

      • eatupbygator says:

        tonsillectomy is an extremely bad idea and will most likely give him much more seriously problems.

      • Cora height says:

        I had my tonsils taken out when I was a kid–it did nothing to prevent me from getting strep. Even as an adult I frequently end up with it a lot

    • eatupbygator says:

      “oil of oregano” and grapefruit seed extract are very powerful natural antibiotics. very awful tasting, but always helping my kids. but i don’t know if your son being so sensitive not maybe can not take those either.

      • Yana says:

        Dear, thank you for your comment. people are so brain-washed these days with the Alopathic medicine, they think that antibiotics are needed in almost every case. I am having a strep throat now, and also taking an oregano oil capsules. It along gave me an immense relief. Yes, I am sick for the 6-th day now, still having a fever, but i do feel much better. One just has to believe in one’s own ability to come out of the disease. I am also breast-feeding, so can’t take antibiotics anyways.


  11. Lisa Hewitt says:

    I had strep throat, probably as bad as it gets. My throat was so swollen it looked like I didn’t have a neck. I cleared it up within 2 days, before I knew my swab tested positive. I took high doses of Vitamin C, probiotics, and Homeopathics given to me by my Naturopathic Doctor. I believe antibotics are not always necessary for strep throat, although, I was most certainly begging for them. I believe good health and a strong immune system is vital to the recovery from this infection.

  12. kim says:

    working in the medical world I can definitely understand the misuse of antibiotics. but….on the other hand if we are talking about undue suffering 1 or 2 times a year then why is this a discussion? pain is suppose to be the 5th vital sign!! if u have ever had strep then u can relate. i have a son who contracts strep about 2 times a year. every time …(i can even smell the infxn at this point)we head to the doc. they culture it, wait for the full report and eventually treat..now it usually takes about 4-7 days for the full report to reach doc and then me. during that time my child has suffered with pain, missed school, lost weight, and increased possibility for scarlet fever!!! are these reasons not enough to treat???

    • Fyrdoc says:

      Number need to treat to prevent rheumatic heart disease 300,000 (i.e., 300,000 patients must be given antibiotics before one case of RH is possibly prevented). BTW – no cases of RH have been demonstrated in the control arm of any RH study in the US performed in the last 40 years.

      Amount of time antibiotics reduce symptoms by (on average) ~8 hours

      Number of prescriptions needed before a significant reaction to antibiotics is produced (i.e., life-threatening – SJS, anaphylaxis, or C-diff) ~ 7,000 (i.e., for every 7,000 patients given antibiotics, one will have a serious reaction)

      The most recent CDC data suggests the incidence of RF to be 0.1 per 100000. Therefore, in 2008 we’d have to treat over one-million strep throat patients to prevent one RF. One-million antibiotic prescriptions for strep throat will result in 24,000 potentially fatal allergic reactions, 100,000 cases of diarrhea and drug rash.

      Still want the Rx?

      • Heidi says:

        Dealing w/ a strep throat outbreak in a large family setting. One son has celiacs. Last thing we need to do is take down his immune system and strip his good bacteria. To those who say what’s the harm in giving antibiotics, you may have recurring problems from just that. 85% of your immune system is in your intestines! Antibiotics are a great tool to save a life, only to ne used in the most extreme of medical needs. Once or 2x in a lifetime would be reasonable of you diligently repopulate the gut, 1-2 times a year shows just how little people know about the damage antibiotics do while doing the good.

      • Ashley says:

        Do you happen to have articles on this – or links to articles. I am running journal club at my residency and want to discuss this. I was just wondering if you know the literature to support these numbers?

  13. Eva says:

    I feel like all the info is so contradictory out there. I was recently diagnosed with Strep c it was a random test I went to doc because I keep having this odd feeling like an allergy where my throat feels like its closing up except its not every day just like 2x a week. So doc calls and says you have strep c but your not contagious we don’t really need to treat it unless you want to. So I opt to treat it since online everywhere you read that if you don’t treat it can become a secondary infection. After my second pill of penicillin I got that feeling like my throat was closing up and I started to feel like feverish and just altogether wiped out. Now I dont know if I should take the pills or if I should stop. With all the contradictions especially within the medical community what am I supposed to do??

  14. Gina says:

    Not treating strep might sound like a good idea until it is your child that develops Rheumatic fever. This is what happened to us April 2009. My 7 year old daughter complained of a sore throat, I looked and didn’t see anything alarming, assumed it was just a cold. A month or two later she develops migratory joint pain that after a few days lands us in the ER. Long story short she had developed RF from the untreated strep (she was never bad enough that I seriously considered it might be strep & being a parent that doesn’t like my children on antibiotics I never took her to the doc – assumed it was just a cold). So now we’re on a long term antibiotic treatment & praying that if we have a reoccurance it will again affect only her joints and not her heart! Oh how I wish now that we would have treated (even unneccesarily) for that sore throat last year!!

    • Denise says:

      I know this story well it was me when I was 11. For those who say it is one in a million. Well, I was the ONE in a decade in about 1 million people literally. Please don’t say it cannot happen. I also had the migratory arthritis. I had excellent health care and if it weren’t for a doctor fresh from India where this to this day is still common in many areas God only knows how far it would have gone before they got the diagnosis right.

      I have the mitral valve to prove it. Don’t mess with this. I now spend a lifetime preventing reinfection, took penicillin for years and culture anything that resembles a sore throat in my house. I was taught to be paranoid for good reason.

      I had no strep symptoms and my son has already once been a strep carrier undetected until we all started getting ill. Strep is nothing to take lightly. They treat because of RH and secondary effects that are bad very bad. Your immune system will eventually kill the bug true, but pray you don’t get the strain that causes RF because a mo later you’ll regret not taking the penicillin.

  15. Fyrdoc says:


    I’m very sorry that happened to your daughter. But your post assumes the antibiotics are benign. They are not. I my career, I’ve yet to see a case of RF (which you can get despite the antibiotics), but I’ve seen two severe (one fatal) cases of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (both reactions to anti-strep abx) and too many allergic reactions to count. It is just as awful when one of these happens to someone’s child.

  16. Mike says:

    Our 4 year old son got sick, fever, sore throat. Gave ibuprofen and Tylenol for 5 days before taking him to doctor thinking it was just a cold. Found he had Strep Throat. I, the father, also caught it about 3 days of his symptoms.

    So now we are both on Amoxicillin. Mine is 875mg twice per day, my son’s is twice a day , lesser dose. Horrible medicine, makes you nausea, headache, feeling weird.

    But I’ve read so many stories about the possible after affects of Strep, i.e. RF and the previous poster Gina.

    So is it worth not taking the medicine and developing some sort of heart condition later or just go ahead and finish the pills for 10 days and suffer the side affects……geez….

  17. Bryan says:

    I have gotten strep throat like 13 times since I was in 6th grade. I am 24 now. So that is about once a year since 6th grade. I have had it twice in the last 3 months. (yes we are talking about getting my tonsils taken out) I know how much you suffer with this and I know the things that can happen if it goes untreated. These things might not always happen, but still the pain that strep causes is worth taking antibotics to get treated. Also, taking antibiotics allows you to do the right thing and not be contagious, just because you might not get RF doesn’t mean the person that you give strep to won’t.
    The real problem is that people aren’t taking their medicine correctly, finishing the pills. THAT IS THE REAL ISSUE.

  18. Monica says:

    I was diagnosed with colonized strep c recently. My seven year old son since he was younger will present with the strep rash and fever but does not test positive for strep A when swabbed. Could I have passed on my colonized strep c to him? Should he be put on antibiotics when he presents the rash and fever?

  19. Charlotte says:

    This seems ridiculous to me. I had symtoms of strep throat for three months that went untreated because my doctor didn’t want to overindulge in the use of antibiotics. I finally got penicillin, which took away most of my symptoms, but this was only after I started developing a rash and rapid increase in heart-beat when I walked. It will take many, many more studies to convince me that strep throat disappears on its own.

  20. Np says:

    It is painful to have strep. Those who have suffered from it probably were hoping praying begging for a quick cure. Knowing that antibiotics would cure it, one with strep might be more than eager to take them despite the side effects/adverse effects. As a medical professional who sees and treats strep, I follow accepted guidelines. Until the guidelines change, i will continue the same practice. As once a patient who had strep….if I get it ever again….remembering that after only 1 dose I felt literally back to normal….I will be sure to be treated with an antibiotic.

  21. patrick says:

    I have strep right now, I can’t afford to get it checked out until my medical card arrives (been waiting awhile) its been about 3 and half days…it sucks…its painful…and with the internet its even a bit scary, thinking about all the stuff that could happe. If god wants me he will take me, if not, ill survive. Ill let you know. Its not a big deal, or is it? Haha…when its time its time. :)

  22. Nathan says:

    Patrick, are you still alive and well? lol

  23. BE says:

    I have strep now, haven’t seen an ms yet. I don’t take any pain relievers for headaches or anything. I do the natural stuff. Trying the oregano oil treatment and contemplating what to do if it doesn’t work. Because of ALL the antbx I’ve taken in my life time I’ve wound up with systemic candida. At this point taking the antbx would mess up all the treatment that I’ve done for the candida! I’m scared to take them and scared not to! I feel like it’s either my throat or my guts that will suffer no matter what I choose.

  24. Interested Lily says:

    I ask the people who have had chronic strep, or strep ever – how do you live your life?

    Are you constantly stressed-out?

    Do you eat simple carbs, and dairy products?

    I used to get strep ALL THE TIME when I was living the standard American lifestyle & eating the Standard American Diet (SAD).

    Now that I have learned what nutrients my cells need to stay healthy on their own, well, I haven’t had a visit to the doctor’s office for strep in YEARS.

    Shall we all do our own personal study? For the people that find themselves sick – what if you eliminated sugar and other processed, chemicalized, genetically modified “foods” for a while. How would your cells, muscles, skin, brain feel? Sick – with only healthy foods full of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, clean water, fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. going in?

    Is it even possible for someone to be or feel sick if their diet & lifestyle are healthy and balanced???

    “The Art of Healing; “Allowing Health,” Not “Fighting Disease”

    With that in mind, is it any wonder that up to 80 percent of people actually end up dying in a hospital? And, if you read Dr. Gary Null‘s excellent piece “Death by Medicine” you will discover that adverse reactions from prescription drugs are responsible for nearly three-quarters of a million avoidable deaths EVERY YEAR in the United States alone.

    We no longer die of old age. We die from inappropriate medical interventions that derail our bodies’ natural healing capacity.

    All the more reason to seek out better, safer solutions to treat your health problems rather than relying on dangerous over-the-counter or prescription medications. Nearly the entire modern health care system is responsible for allowing countless unnecessary drugs to be prescribed, which leads directly to these prescription drug fatalities.

    The fact is, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, designed to “fight disease,” kill more people every year than the combined deaths of all those who die from the use of every illegal drug in existence. So although a distinction is made between legal prescription drugs and illegal drugs used for recreational purposes there really isn‘t much difference is there?

    What many people do not realize is that it is possible to maintain total health by avoiding unnecessary drugs and by gaining a comprehensive, clear and researched understanding of good nutrition and proper lifestyle choices, and by allowing healing, including the healing crisis, to take place without panicking.” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/12/13/the-world-s-weirdest-deaths.aspx

    Here’s another great article from Dr. Mercola: Disease Branding for the Sake of Drug Marketing.


    • Carola says:

      I don’t know about this…. strep is a bacteria…. I am basically raw, at this point, and I nearly never get sick with a viral infection — but have had strep thrice (may be the same strain) in the past three years…..

  25. Richard says:

    I have strep throat right now. I also had it about 10 years ago. When I went to the doctor for the first time (10 years ago) he prescribed some throat spray and no anti-biotics. My strep lasted about a week and went away on it’s own. This time I went to the doctor after feeling my lymphnodes swell and he prescibed some amoxicillan. This is only the third day of feeling symptoms and I’m feeling so much better. There were no side effects from the anti-biotics. It still hurts a little to swallow but is WAY better than last night. Last night I absolutely dreaded having to swallow and the pain was so bad I couldn’t sleep. I went into a urgent care clinic and the doctor prescribed antibiotics without a swab culture. I am very glad I went in when I did and these anti-biotics have helped alot! I think it’s important to get on the anti-biotics while in the early stages of strep throat to be more useful. I also picked up some airborne immune booster that seemed to help out as well. I’m hoping to get a good nights sleep and hopefully be able to eat tomorrow without any pain. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  26. Caroline says:

    I have been getting strep at least once a year since I was a child and I’m 33 now. About five or or so years ago, I got it 7 times in one year alone. I’ve taken antibiotics about 85% of the time and the times I didn’t, it went away on it’s own. I don’t know that there’s any definitive answer as to whether taking them or not is right or wrong… as far as I can tell, it depends on the person. I just had it again a week ago and as usual I get the swelling, pain and white spots but that’s it… I never feel ‘sick’ or get a fever anymore (not since I was a teenager). I took Tylenol for the pain, as I usually do when it’s too painful, and it began feeling better within a few days and now it’s gone. I wish I had had my tonsils out when I was younger because after all the research I’ve done as far as having them out now, it seems that after 18 years of age, it’s an extremely painful surgery and just not worth it in my opinion.
    At this point, it’s just something I’ve learned to live with and after having taken so many antibiotics, I’m just over it and have no plans on taking them again unless at some point it doesn’t go away on its own or gets worse. This is not a suggestion for anyone else, just a point of view from someone who has been dealing with strep for at least 20 years.
    I wish everyone the best of luck with this because I know how frustrating it can be!

  27. Angela says:

    I am interested in alternate methods of treatment for strep throat since taking antibiotics often creates other medical problems like yeast infections.
    Furthermore, since one type of antibiotic never seems to get rid of my strep, I’m usually given several different types of antibiotics until the dr. finds one that works. This means I’m in and out of the doctors office for six months or more trying to clear up one infection after another.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that has similar problems with antibiotics and I really wonder if taking them is even worth it.

  28. Stacy says:

    What about strep that results in the rash (scarlet fever)? At that point, should antibiotics be used? Or is the rash not a big deal? I am a pharmacist, and we were taught that the rash was a progression, and the next consequence was likely to be rheumatic fever.

  29. Melissa says:

    I recently got step throat…and I have had it many times…I just let my body treat itself. However, this time was very different. It was the worst pain I have ever had…and I was physically unable to get out of bed. Turns out I left it untreated too long. When I had s/s that were not normal for myself. I went to the ER…turns out I had a ruptured peritonsillar abscess. I don’t think I will ever mess around with my throat again…and right now I have another sore throat. I don’t want to be a hypochondriac…I just don’t ever want to be sick like that again. I ended up missing an entire 2 weeks of class and now have to wait a year to take the class over.

  30. Karebear says:

    I just got strep for the first time, it was extremely painful and I immediately went to the dr. He gave me a prescription but said wait for results from lab. But if I were you I would start the antibiotics. So I tried waiting but couldn’t, as soon as I took this antibiotic I felt better. The lab phoned said yes you have strep come in for your prescription. I said I already have one, well that one is not strong enough but since you started finish. So I did but once finished I went back cause my throat was now not feeling right. Oh sorry that dr gave you an antibiotic that does not treat strep. Soo now I have not taken the new antibiotic and I am going to see if it clears up. I did have a rash when on the antibiotics was it scarlet fever… Don’ t know… Time to buy some more oil of oregeno.

  31. Ang says:

    My kids have strep from time to time. They often develop rash which looks scary but goes away fast. I guess that’s the scarlet fever. I think antibiotics should not be abused. Maybe that is why kids nowadays are so weak because every time there is any bacterial infection, antibiotic is introduced, lowering our natural immunity. So next time around we are forced to rely on antibiotics because our own immunity can’t manage. In extreme cases antibiotics might be necessary but only in extreme situations. Some people may think that some strep symptoms would not occur if antibiotics would be administered but how do u really know. This is nothing else that mere assumption. Save antibiotics for extreme cases otherwise try to rely on your own immunity. Just make sure that u consume nutritious meals to give your body fuel it needs to fight through the tough time.

  32. Enya says:

    3 years ago I contracted strep. I received antibiotics but stopped them because it caused severe diarrhea. I did not take anything else and my strep went away or so I thought. A couple months later I extracted a wisdom tooth. Didn’t receive any antibiotics and my jaw locked up. The entire right side of my face was swollen for month. I was rushed to the ER cause they thought I had an infection. However after, ct scans and MRI, they could find nothing. I then developed chorea followed by intense episode of dystopia of the jaw. After all of this strep started coming on a monthly basis. The strep spread to my eyes and then I developed the worse case of erythema nodosum my doctors had ever seen. I could not walk for about 2 months. I started getting better after a while but then strep started coming every other month and then every month and then twice a month and also had bad reactive arthritis. Then it spread to the head of my humerus bone. For 6 months I could not move my right arm. It felt like it wasn’t part of my body. I had surgery and they found that the entire head of humerus was filled with pus and there was no bone. All that was left was a shell. They cleaned it out but could not definitively say that it was strep since lab results came up empty. Since the surgery, I’ve had strep every month. I’ve been on long term antibiotics for 6 months in hopes that it would kill the strep. I have to check my heart and kidneys all the time cause strep usually affects those areas. The weird thing is that I even get the strep while on the antibiotics but my docs say that maybe I just need to take it for long enough to see improvements. I often wonder if I had taken the full course of antibiotics that first time if I would be where I am today. I’m confused as to how to deal with strep in the midst of its intense attack on my body. If anyone has any advice on this it would be greatly appreciated.

  33. Jodi says:

    Enya, I was just trying to read up on the controversy of antiobiotics and came across your posting. I am not a medical professional but felt compelled to just reply and say your situation sounds absolutely miserable and I am so sorry you are experiencing all of this! How dreadful!! My only thought is, and I’m assuming the answer is yes, but are you getting multiple professional opinions? It’s been months since you posted this, so I do hope things are under control now.

  34. John says:

    I am pretty sure this guy means well, but you will find, though strep throat does go away on its own, because at least half the cases for strep are caused by viral infections, and not bacterial which is a majoring factor in the heplfulness of antibiotics, it is not really the actual idea or concept of treating the infection but more along the lines of treating the symptoms for some, the symptoms are not all too bad, for others, it is like a nightmare, a blinding light, to no end seems to be near. some doctors will prescribe you medicine not to fight the bacteria but to fight the symptoms.

    though what is quite funny and seems to be a miss by this article is the known fact that most antibiotics kill not just the infection but useful bacteria and microbes in your body. so if your immunity is already poor, now with an antibiotic you have essentially given yourself symtoms that could be equivalent to aids. because your immune system just does not work at all, depending on the dosage and how your own body reacts to the antibiotics.

    but as far as i am concerned, who are you to tell someone that after a day going to the doctors for some antibiotics is just down right ridiculous.
    me personally i had strep throat once, took me nearly 3 weeks to finally be rid of it, and this was on a high dose of anitbiotics as well as a penicillin dose after the second visit to the doctor, and a pain reliever injection for the throat. Nothing seemed to work.

    Though reading and hearing about after you get your antibiotic it would go away in a few days. i was feeling relieved until a week later when i still felt like death. and this is coming from someone who gets sick as often as every other blue moon that comes around.

    so antibiotics are indeed bad, but they do provide relief from the pain, and the aches and the fevers… so in retrospect they are quite good too

    • C says:

      The biggest problems I have with abx treatment with strep are:
      1. Docs often give without culturing
      2. Abx are held hostage by docs wanting to make a buck. My family does not have insurance, so when we have sore throats with low to no grade fever, we just have to wait it out. I can’t afford $120 per family member to be tested. There should be OTC tests and then, meds could be released. I can’t tell you how many times we have been in a doc office for about 10 min test and then left with a $300 bill for three people. It’s outrageous.

  35. Ripshin says:

    I had strep six years ago, rushed to the Med Clinic (not insured) and got the penicillin. Luckily, it was inexpensive. It was gone in 12 hours. Last night, I’m certain that it happened again, but the symptoms have lessened (no more fever), and I see no white spots. it is still sore to swallow, but not painfully so. I think that I might wait till Monday, before shelling out the money for a doctor and medication. (FYI – i recently had a nasty cold when traveling for the holidays – it lasted over three weeks, but two weeks have passed with good health.)

  36. aj says:

    i believe you can wait it out depending on how severe it is. ive had it for almost a week now and on the past two days done this.took in a lot of vitamin C from fresh squeezed juices, tangerin orange, lime,lemon,guava, dragonfruit. gargled and sipped apple cidder vinager diluted in warm water 3x a day.it has worked wonders so far.

  37. Wayne says:

    Dangerous to say Strep doesn’t need antibiotics.
    I’ve had strep for nearly 3 months now,(confirmation by swab) on 3rd prescription of antibiotics and, fingers crossed, they seem to be slowly having an affect. But I had chest pains so worried about rheumatic fever.
    I’m not one to go to the doctors, or take drugs, but this was not going away on its own.

  38. Jessica says:

    I have had strep twice now – the first time was in the summer of 2005. I went to a party with some friends and woke up the next day with a sore throat, which progressed rapidly in the same day to extreme soreness, swelling, and difficulty swallowing. I’d only ever had the common cold in my life and knew this was not normal. I went to a quick care clinic and they swabbed my throat and it came back positive for strep. Back then I didn’t know anything about the dangers of antibiotics, so I took the prescription willingly (can’t remember anymore which one they prescribed me), but my symptoms were 85% gone after the first dose. It really worked wonders. I was amazed. I didn’t have any reactions or side effects to the antibiotics and I’m very self-disciplined and was sure to finish the entire round of pills. My mother never allowed me or my younger sister to take antibiotics while growing up, before she knew they were bad for us. I guess she just had an instinct that it was weird that doctors prescribed them so easily. She’d always throw out the antibiotic prescriptions and help us wait out whatever it was we had. But we were blessed – my sister and I both hardly ever got sick.
    Yesterday, I had the exact same experience again – went to a party, woke up the next morning with a nagging sore throat on the right side. This tends to happen after being out late and talking a lot with friends, being in the city around second hand smoke, laughing and getting on, or yelling over noise at a bar. So I thought it would pass after some rest. Instead it got worse, and FAST. Within 7 hours the pain had spread to my entire throat and I couldn’t swallow without wanting to cry. I couldn’t talk. I knew from the last time in 2005 that this had to be strep. I waited another few hours to see if the pain would plateau and it just kept getting worse and worse. I couldn’t take it. It was late Friday night and I decided to go to the ER with my husband. We had to wait 2 hours to be seen (now living in Canada, moved from the US in 2010), but I told the doctor my symptoms and he looked at my throat and said “It’s most likely strep throat considering how your throat looks upon inspection and judging by your symptoms. You don’t have any congestion or coughing or sinus problems and your throat is extremely red. I could test for strep but it’ll take at least another hour to get the results back and I’m certain they’ll show up positive. I’m just going to give you a prescription for 600mg penicillin and give you the first dose here so that you can get started now.”
    I know how horrible antibiotics are but I have been an avid user of probiotics for the last 2-1/2 years and am going to be diligently repopulating my gut flora as soon as I finish the round of penicillin with things like kombucha, water kefir (made at home), bone broth, probiotics, etc. Antibiotics are not evil as long as you take them as rarely as possible, only when truly needed. I hadn’t had them since my first run-in with strep in 2005 and I know how important they are in treating strep. It’s only been 6 hours since I left the ER and my symptoms have already dwindled significantly. I knew they would. There was no way I was going to try to fight this alone. I’m a trooper when it comes to forgoing medicine otherwise. I hate conventional medicine. I’ve thrown out the majority of my prescriptions and treated any small things naturally. But I have a pretty healthy immune system – have only ever had the flu once in my life, around the age of 25. Haven’t had even so much as the common cold in over 2 years. So I allowed myself this treatment because strep just isn’t to be messed with and I was truly suffering and I know how contagious strep is. You’re contagious basically as long as you have it, but taking antibiotics stops you from being contagious within the first 24-48 hours (so they say). I didn’t want to worry about infecting everyone I know. I wish I knew why I picked it up both times at a party. Yuck. I’ll nurse my gut back to health as soon as my penicillin runs out.

    • sophia says:

      Hey jessica, I really enjoyed your story. I feel like there are three views to this antibiotic debacle as I like to call it lol. One side is quick to take one, the other will swear them off entirely and then the other take the happy median. I see some of these posts from people who swear of antibiotics entirely saying, “your body doesn’t need an antibiotic. It naturally will fight off strep in 3 to 7 days.” so not true. I can speak from experience. I have had several confirmed cases of strep in the last 8 years so I know all to well. There is no fighting through one strep out break as some anti-antibiotic individuals may want you to believe because there are many strains of strep. Also, something to think about. I decided the last time I had strep to let my body fight it off. I dealt with a sore throat and a mild strep infection for two weeks not 3 to 7 days and my untreated strep caused a guitar psoriasis outbreak! My daughter also got scarlet fever around this time before we caught her strep. There are so many things one can do after taking a course of antibiotics that not take one would just be ignorant and possibly life threatening. People who don’t take antibiotics for strep are contagious up to two weeks and maybe they kick the infection to the curb but that next person who catches it from them might not be so lucky

  39. Beth says:

    I wouldn’t mess with strep. My mother almost lost her kidneys and had to take steroids for a long time. I now have a friend who might have rheumatic fever….

  40. Rebecca says:

    Yeah, so thanks to this theory, I was sick for 6 months and hospitalized 3 times with a 103+ fever and severe dehydration. They knew the whole time that I had strep C, but claimed that it was just a strain that colonizes and shouldn’t be treated. I had NEVER had strep, nor had I had tonsillitis before, but yet still, no treatment. When they FINALLY gave me penicillin, hey, guess what? I was better in a week! I lost my job and was bedridden for 6 months and all it took was a round of penicillin.

    How about we stop giving antibiotics to people who don’t want to take them (because they won’t finish them) and give them to people who are dying and therefore want them. It’s poor medicine to recommend not giving antibiotics. Shame on you!

  41. matt says:

    The last time I had strep I ignored it but it never cleared up on its own. After 6 weeks with a sore throat I got some antibiotics and that did the trick. Now I have it again and would like to avoid antibiotics but I’m afraid it won’t go away, so I’ll probably seek treatment as this idea that it clears after a week to 10 days isn’t true in my experience.

  42. Nurse M says:

    I’m all about not abusing antibiotics, but if you suspect you have strep throat you really should see a doctor or nurse practitioner. True strep is caused by a bacteria. It’s not a virus. If you are diagnosed with strep and decide not to treat it with antibiotics, please do the world and yourself a favor and stay quarantined for a few weeks. No school, no work, no time with your children. The infection is airborne and infectious through contact with contaminated surfaces. Just because you eat healthy does not mean you can’t get sick. People with compromised immune systems and the elderly do not need your infection. School aged children should be kept home for a few weeks and monitored closely. Don’t spread strep to the rest of the class. If you are on antibiotics eat yogurt or take a probiotic. Before antibiotics people used to die when an infection grew out of control. They weren’t just “sturdier”. As a health professional some of these comments scare me. I understand not wanting to use antibiotic treatment, but if that’s your choice, also choose to take every precaution to keep anyone else from your infection, who may not fight it off as well as you do.

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