Strep throat is an incredibly common disease that frequently affects children and teenagers. This bacterial infection is typically caused by group A-streptococcal bacteria. When someone develops strep throat, they may have a fever and inflammation of the pharynx. An estimated 15 to 30 percent of pharyngitis cases in children are caused by Streptococcus spp. This highly contagious infection must be treated with antibiotics properly to prevent it from spreading. As a highly contagious disease, it is easy for this infection to spread during the strep throat contagious period.
How Long Does the Strep Throat Contagious Period Last?
The length of the strep throat contagious period depends entirely on if the patient takes antibiotics or not. When someone is not treated through antibiotic medication, they may remain contagious for two to three weeks after they contract the virus. In addition, you will be contagious for two to five days before you even realize that you are ill because it can take a little time for symptoms to develop. During this initial stage, many people end up sharing their infection unintentionally because they do not realize that they are ill yet.
If you are taking antibiotics, you will be contagious for a far shorter amount of time. In general, you will stop being contagious after about 24 hours of taking antibiotics. Your doctor may still recommend that you stay at home just to make sure and to give your body time to heal. Once you start taking antibiotics, it only takes a few days for your own symptoms to start to go away.
Some people ill notice that symptoms of strep throat start to fade within the first few days if they are taking antibiotics. If you are not taking antibiotics, you may continue to have heightened symptoms for up to a week. Keep in mind that you should still call your doctor if you continue to have severe symptoms or an unrelenting fever for 48 hours after you have started antibiotics.
By the next day after your first dose of antibiotics, you will be drastically less contagious. This is especially true if your fever and symptoms are starting to go away. If you still have a fever, then you may still be contagious. To prevent your illness from spreading, make sure to be cautious and avoid spreading germs for several days after you have sought treatment.
How Can You Keep the Infection From Spreading?
Whenever you cough or sneeze, tiny droplets of the bacteria are released into the air in large amounts. Even when you breath, some of the bacteria is released into the air. When someone else inhales these droplets, they can end up becoming sick. Unfortunately, the bacteria that causes strep throat can continue to survive on toothbrushes, door knobs and other items for quite a while afterward, so it is important to avoid contact with other people when you are sick.
There are some steps that you can take to prevent strep throat from spreading. The most obvious option is to always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before making food and before visiting a school, hospital or nursing home. You should make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before and after you cook. You should also wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
While you are contagious, it is important that you do not share eating utensils, food, drinks or anything else with someone else. When you wash the dishes, make sure to use hot, soapy water and allow the dishes to dry completely before you use them.
If you cough or sneeze, make sure to cover your mouth. Ideally, use the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth when you cough so that the bacteria does not spread from your hands to other objects. If you have children, teach them to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze to keep other people from becoming infected.
As soon as you experience symptoms of strep throat, it is important to go to the doctor right away so that you can get diagnosed and started on antibiotics. This will help you to heal faster and prevent your strep throat from being contagious for as long. Your doctor may prescribe several weeks of antibiotics. It is important that you take the full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. Otherwise, all of the bacteria in your body may not be killed off, and you are more likely to develop serious side effects like rheumatic fever.
Watch Out for the Signs of Strep Throat
If you have strep throat, you will develop a sore throat and a fever of 102F or more. You may notice white- or yellow-colored pus around your tonsils and throat. Your lymph nodes may become swollen and you could develop a rash. Some individuals also experience headaches, vomiting, nausea and muscle pain when they have strep throat.