Strep throat

What is it? What are the symptoms? What are the treatments?

What is strep throat?

An infectious sore throat caused by a group of bacteria called streptococcus A (strep for short). This type of infection is very common and is thought to account for roughly a quarter of all cases of sore throat.

You catch strep throat in the same way as a cough or cold by inhaling droplets of infected saliva that are carried on the air from people sneezing and coughing.

What are the symptoms of Strep throat?

Symptoms include a sore throat, made worse on swallowing; swollen glands in the neck and swollen tonsils. You might also have a fever (temperature of 38°C or above) and may feel generally unwell.

What are the treatments and remedies of Strep throat?

Most sore throats get better without treatment other than over-the-counter preparations and paracetamol or ibuprofen. If you have a vulnerable or weakened immune system or heart disease, you might be prescribed an antibiotic such as penicillin.

Self-help includes drinking plenty of cool fluids to flush the bacteria out of your system and to ease the soreness. You might find it soothing to eat cool, smooth foods like chilled yogurt or ice cream, or to suck on ice cubes.

Gargling with warm, salty water several times a day can also help to relieve soreness.

This guide 

The information in this Bounty A-Z of Family Health is not a substitute for an examination, diagnosis or treatment by a doctor, midwife, health visitor or any other qualified health professional. If in doubt, always speak to a doctor.

Bounty will not be held responsible or liable for any injury, loss, damage, or illness, however this occurs or appears, after using the information given on this website and in particular the A-Z of Family Health.

Further help

For health advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the NHS offers call and web services. You can also visit NHS websites for services, health information and health news at nhs.uk 

  • England – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs.uk 
  • Scotland – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs24.com 
  • Wales – call 0845 4647 , or visit nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk 
  • Northern Ireland – visit hscni.net


Strep throat