Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that comes on suddenly, causing a painful sore throat and a fever.
It’s caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, or type A Streptococcus.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is typically treated with antibiotics to prevent a serious complication called rheumatic fever.
But, even on antibiotics, symptoms like fever and sore throat can continue for 1-2 weeks as you recover.
There are some at-home remedies that can help soothe your symptoms while you recover.
Don’t waste time on unproven remedies.
In this article, I’ll start by providing more information about strep throat, and then list 8 home remedies that are safe and may help with your symptoms.
I’ll also tell you about some things to avoid, and precautions you can take.
I’ll talk about the types of antibiotics that are prescribed for strep throat, and explain when you should see a doctor or healthcare provider about your sore throat.
What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection. Unlike a typical sore throat from a cold, strep throat results in a sudden, severe, painful sore throat that is usually covered in red or white spots at the back of the mouth.
Most people with strep throat have a fever of at least 101ºF.
If you have a cough, runny nose or hoarse voice, your sore throat is much more likely due to a cold or other virus.
What causes strep throat?
Strep throat is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, otherwise referred to as group A Streptococcus.
Group A strep is highly contagious and may easily be passed by coughing, sneezing, shared dishes or utensils and other close contacts.
You can also get strep throat by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is typically treated to prevent the complication of rheumatic fever, which can cause heart damage.
Use of antibiotics also may help symptoms go away about 1 day more quickly than they would on their own.
Strep throat common symptoms
The most common symptoms of strep throat are:
- Severe sore throat
- Fever: Many cases of strep throat involve a fever of at least 101ºF.
- Pain when swallowing: Some people describe the throat and swallowing pain of strep throat as being similar to trying to swallow a brick. It isn’t easily resolved by drinking cold or warm beverages.
- Petechiae: Tiny red spots may appear on the palate or back of the throat.
- Swollen tonsils: Along with swelling, the tonsils may appear red or have white patches or pus visible on them.
- Swollen lymph nodes: It is common to have tender, swollen lymph nodes on the sides of your neck or under your jaw.
- No cough: It is uncommon to have a cough or runny nose when you have strep pharyngitis.
8 Home Remedies for Strep Throat
Since strep throat takes 1-2 weeks to go away, even on antibiotics, some home remedies can help to reduce pain and make you more comfortable while you wait for your symptoms to improve.
Other home remedies that may be popular are not proven and could actually make things worse.
These eight remedies are safe to try.
Always ask your doctor or provider if you are not sure if a home remedy or over-the-counter (OTC) treatment is right for your condition.
Hydration is especially important when you do not feel well.
Your cells need fluids to properly function, including fighting infections.
Drinking water and other fluids also help to keep the throat moist, which can reduce pain from the sore throat when swallowing.
A centuries-old home remedy, honey has natural antibacterial properties that make it great for many things, including soothing a sore throat.
Mix 2 tablespoons of honey in warm water or tea, stir until dissolved, and drink.
Repeat a few times per day as needed. (Never give honey to a child under age 1.)
Herbal tea is a longstanding remedy for many ailments.
The warm liquid can soothe a sore throat.
The herbs in some teas may also have medicinal benefits.
Chamomile may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant healing properties.
It has been traditionally used for numerous illnesses, including digestive upset, respiratory infections, and inflammation of mucous membranes, which are found in the throat.
Brew a cup of chamomile tea as often as desired to soothe a sore throat.
You can add honey for a doubled-up approach.
There is no scientific evidence that shows chamomile heals strep throat, or any other infection, but it can be soothing and is unlikely to cause any harm.
Chicken soup is often said to have healing properties and has been in use for centuries.
While it cannot actually cure the flu, a cold, or your sore throat, it does have some benefits.
Soup broths contribute fluids for hydration, and the warmth of the liquid can soothe a sore throat.
Bone broth is sometimes used interchangeably to mean soup stock.
While some sources on the internet will claim that bone broth can heal you from illnesses because it contains more nutrients, studies have found that concentrations of nutrients in bone broths are unreliable.
Consuming bone broth can be a way to increase hydration, but it will not cure your sore throat faster than chicken soup, chamomile tea, or water.
A humidifier is a great way to alleviate the dryness and discomfort associated with a sore throat.
Humidifiers help to moisten the air and improve sinus airways.
Use one in your bedroom while you sleep, especially if the sore throat makes it hard to rest.
Gargle warm salt water
Saltwater can help to reduce inflammation in the throat, loosen mucus, and decrease bacteria.
Add ½ teaspoon of salt to 6-8 ounces of warm water, stir, and gargle a few times at the back of your throat.
You can gargle a few times per day for relief.
When your throat hurts, eating soft foods can decrease the pain of swallowing.
Avoid things that are hard, crunchy, or require lots of extra chewing.
Focus on soups, rice, steamed vegetables, pasta, and anything else that provides relief.
Avoid spicy and acidic foods, like citrus, which can be irritating.
Your immune system functions better when you are well-rested.
Even if you only have a sore throat, ensure that you are giving your body ample time to rest.
Precautions and What to Avoid
Some home remedies are unproven.
While some may not cause harm, others can make things worse or cause other problems.
There are many types of essential oils, but none of them should be used to address a sore throat.
They are not meant for ingestion or gargling and can be toxic if you do swallow them.
If you have a sore throat, you should also avoid:
- Hard to swallow foods
- Dry air
- Acidic foods or extra spicy foods
Treatments for Strep Throat
Home remedies can work to decrease the discomfort or pain associated with strep throat, but they do not replace the need for a consultation with a provider to see if antibiotics are needed.
The three most common antibiotics prescribed for strep throat are:
- Penicillin: Dosages range from 250 mg twice daily to 500 mg twice daily, depending on age. The typical course of penicillin for strep throat is 10 days.
- Amoxicillin: Dosages are based on body weight for children, with a maximum daily dose of 1000 mg. Adults are typically prescribed 500mg twice a day or 1,000 mg extended release daily.The typical course of amoxicillin for strep throat is 10 days.
- Cephalexin: For individuals allergic to penicillin, cephalexin is often prescribed. It is dosed by body weight for children and the usually adult dose is 500mg twice a day for 10 days.
Never stop taking antibiotics until you have finished the regimen, even if you feel better.
If you stop too early, your infection could come back and could contribute to an antibiotic-resistant infection.
When to See a Doctor
If you have a severe sore throat that comes on quickly, especially if you have a fever, contact your doctor.
It could be strep throat, which requires antibiotics to prevent complications.
If you have a sore throat so severe you are having difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing, seek urgent medical care.
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Sore throat. (2021).
Soothing a sore throat. (2013).
Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. (2011).
Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with bright future. (2010).
Chicken soup and sickness. (2021).
Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research. (2019).
Authenticating apple cider vinegar's home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. (2019).
Strep throat: all you need to know. (2021).
Pharyngitis (strep throat). (2018).