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Antibiotics For Throat Infection In Adults

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Strep Throat Treatment Options

Prescribing antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in adults

If your strep test comes back positive, your healthcare provider will most likely prescribe an antibiotic treatment. Once treatment starts, you should feel improvement within a day or two. It is very important to finish your antibiotics even if you feel better because strep throat can cause serious complications, such as rheumatic fever or glomerulonephritis , or turn into other serious infections within the streptococcal infection group, such as scarlet fever or impetigo. To manage the symptoms of strep throat there are over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain, and at-home remedies like drinking plenty of water.

Remedies For A Sore Throat From Sinus Issues

Treating sinus issues can be an effective way to treat the symptom of a sore throat if this is the underlying cause of your discomfort. The best treatment to relieve a sore throat from sinus issues will depend on the specific sinus or nasal problem the patient is dealing with. In addition to asking questions about your symptoms, an experienced ENT doctor will often completely examine the nose and airways with an endoscopy to determine the reason for obstruction, drainage or inflammation. After a diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan can be developed to match the sinus problem at hand.


If chronic sinusitis is the underlying source of your sore throat, you may need to take action to reduce the swelling and draining that can stem from this infection. One of the best ways to treat the infection and ensure it doesnt come back is a balloon sinuplasty procedure. In this procedure the sinus openings are enlarged, allowing the airways to open and the infection to clear. Larger sinus openings allow the sinuses to drain properly, resulting in fewer problems or symptoms like sore throat in the future.

Enlarged Turbinates

Antibiotics For Treatment Of Sore Throat In Children And Adults

Plain language summary

Review question

Are antibiotics effective in treating the symptoms and reducing the potential complications associated with sore throats?


Sore throats are infections caused by bacteria or viruses. Pain or discomfort is the most distinguishing feature. However, fever and headache are also common accompanying symptoms. People usually recover quickly , although some develop complications. A serious but rare complication is rheumatic fever, which affects the heart and joints. Other complications include acute infection of the sinuses, middle ear, tonsils, and kidney. Antibiotics reduce infections caused by bacteria, but not those caused by viruses, and they can cause diarrhoea, rash, and other adverse effects. In addition, communities build resistance to them.

Search date

The evidence is current to April 2021.

Study characteristics

The 2021 update includes 29 trials with 15,337 cases of sore throat. All of the included studies were randomised controlled trials that sought to determine if antibiotics helped reduce symptoms of sore throat, fever, or headache or the occurrence of more serious complications. The included studies were conducted in both children and adults seeking medical care for their symptoms.

Study funding sources

Key results

Certainty of the evidence

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What Antibiotic Should Be Selected

Many antibioticssuch as penicillin-can be used to treat recurrent strep throat infections.

Clindamycin or rifampin, in combination with a second antibiotic, such as penicillin, amoxicillin, or a cephalosporin, has been used to treat acute, recurrent, and carrier strep throat infections. Routine use of clindamycin is not advocated because diarrhea is a rare, but significant, side effect. Rifampin must be used with a second antibiotic because strep will rapidly become resistant to it when it is given as a single therapy. Patients should be advised that rifampin produces orange discoloration of the urine and tears .

Oral cephalosporins have gained widespread use in treating recurrent strep throat infections. When cephalosporin antibiotics are used to treat strep throat infections, a failure occurs less than 5% of the time however, they are more expensive than penicillin or amoxicillin.

Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid has been evaluated to treat strep throat with superior or equivalent results in comparison to penicillin.

Table 4.

What Can Make My Sore Throat Feel Better

Antibiotic Dosage For Throat Infection

Here are some things that might help you feel better:

  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever. Children should not take aspirin. Aspirin can cause a serious illness called Reyes syndrome when it is given to children younger than 18 years of age.
  • Gargle with warm salt water .
  • Adults and older children can suck on throat lozenges, hard candy, pieces of ice, or popsicles.
  • Eat soft foods and drink cool drinks or warm liquids .
  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps your body fight infection.
  • Drink plenty of water. This helps keep your throat lubricated and helps prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid acidic or spicy foods and drinks .

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Do I Need An Antibiotic Medicine

Usually you will not need an antibiotic. Most throat and tonsil infections are caused by viruses, although some are caused by germs called bacteria. Without tests, it is usually not possible to tell if it is a viral or bacterial infection. Antibiotics kill bacteria but do not kill viruses. However, even if a bacterium is the cause, an antibiotic does not make much difference in most cases. Your immune system usually clears these infections within a few days, whether caused by a virus or a bacterium. Also, antibiotics can sometimes cause side-effects such as diarrhoea, feeling sick, rash and stomach upsets.

Therefore, most doctors do not prescribe antibiotics for most cases of sore throat or tonsillitis. See the leaflet called Why wasn’t I prescribed antibiotics? for more detail.

Many doctors use a scoring system called the Centor score to decide whether a sore throat needs antibiotics. The features they look for are:

  • Presence of pus on the tonsils.
  • Tender lymph glands in the neck.
  • Absence of cough.
  • History of high temperature .

If three or four of these are present it is more likely that the infection is caused by bacteria. If this looks likely, you may be given a “delayed prescription”. This means you should not start taking the antibiotic straightaway. However, if you are getting worse, or if your symptoms have not started to improve in 2-3 days then you can pick up the prescription without having to go back to the doctor.

What Is Strep Throat And How Do People Get It

Strep throat is a specific type of bacterial infectionâgroup A Streptococcus, in medical parlance.

That differs from other illnesses that give us sore throats and coughs, which are usually viral infections that don’t need to be treated with antibiotics, and go away on their own.

Strep bacteria live in the nose and spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and spreads respiratory droplets to other people. You can catch strep from an infected person if you:

  • Inhale the droplets

  • Touch something the droplets have landed onâlike a doorknobâand then touch a mucous membrane

  • Touch an open sore that was caused by group A Strep

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Persistent Sore Throats In Children

Children are more susceptible to conditions or viruses that can cause chronic sore throat symptoms, such as the common cold and other viral or bacterial infections. Usually, children are more prone to tonsillitis, which can cause severe throat pain, although this can affect people of any age. The best treatment for children with a chronic sore throat will depend on whether the source of the issue is a bacterial infection, a viral infection, or underlying allergies.

What Are The Complications Of Tonsillitis

Dexamethasone Without Antibiotics vs Placebo on Acute Sore Throat

It is important to attend the tonsillitis condition without any further. Otherwise, delaying its treatment can lead to following health problems-

  • Obstructive Sleep apnea
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis

For people looking for immediate relief from tonsillitis, the medicines that are mentioned below can help. However, it is advised to take these medicines only after proper consultation with the doctor.

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Strep Throat Vs Sore Throat

Sore throats are pain in the throat that is typically caused by a virus. It can be due to bacteria, allergies, pollution or throat dryness. Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by bacteria. Sore throat is a symptom of strep throat and its also a symptom of other respiratory conditions. Both are contagious they can be passed from person to person in any place with close contact.

Not many people with sore throats have bacterial infections. According to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, viruses cause 85 to 95 percent of throat infections in adults and children younger than 5 years of age. Viruses cause about 70 percent of throat infections in those aged 5 to 15 years, with the other 30 percent due to bacterial infections, mostly group A strep. Natural sore throat remedies should be your first choice, as antibiotic treatment will not help a viral infection.

It can be hard to tell the difference between strep throat symptoms and symptoms of a viral infection. Remember, while trying to make a self-diagnosis, that strep throat doesnt include cold symptoms, like coughing, sneezing or runny nose. If you have a sore throat with cold symptoms, its likely caused by a viral infection and its not strep throat. Try strep throat home remedies to find some relief from your symptoms.

Most Infections Respond Quickly To Antibiotics

The symptoms of strep throat include a severe sore throat, especially when swallowing, along with a fever, swollen glands in the neck, headache, and nausea. Sore throats accompanied by cold or flu-like symptoms, such as nasal congestion and cough, are typically caused by a virus, and antibiotics are not effective to kill viruses. To avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics and development of resistance to antibiotics, the diagnosis of a bacterial infection should be made before antibiotics are prescribed. This diagnosis is based on a history of symptoms, a physical examination, and a positive laboratory test or culture for Streptococcus bacteria.

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Is This The Correct Antibiotic

The good news is that most children with ear infections do get the right prescription. In a separate report in JAMA Internal Medicine, Dr. Adam Hersh of the University of Utah and colleagues found that 67 percent two-thirds of children with ear infections got the correct prescription. But only 37 percent of adults with sore throats and sinus infections did.

This study provides evidence of substantial overuse of nonfirst-line antibiotics.

The teams used two big national surveys from 2010 and 2011, which they said were the latest available. We do not have reason to believe practice patterns have substantially changed, Hershs team wrote.

Medical experts have been complaining about the misuse of antibiotics for two decades, but the message still is not getting through, Hyun said.

Patients also need to get tough on themselves and their doctors. Ask: Is an antibiotic really needed? Is this the correct antibiotic? he said.

The CDC says more than 2 million people are infected by drug-resistant germs each year, and 23,000 die of their infections

Who Can And Cannot Take Amoxicillin

Ultimate Guide To Combat Warning Signs Of Strep Throat

Amoxicillin can be taken by most adults and children.

Find out more about giving amoxicillin to children on the Medicines for Children website.

Amoxicillin is not suitable for everyone. To make sure amoxicillin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

  • have ever had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin or penicillin or any other medicine
  • have liver or kidney problems
  • have recently had, or are due to have, any vaccinations

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When Not To Use Antibiotics

Antibiotics are not the correct choice for all infections. For example, most sore throats, cough and colds, flu, COVID or acute sinusitis are viral in origin and do not need an antibiotic. These viral infections are self-limiting, meaning that your own immune system will usually kick in and fight the virus off.

Using antibiotics for viral infections can increase the risk for antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cannot be fully inhibited or killed by an antibiotic, even though the antibiotic may have worked effectively before the resistance occurred. This can also lower your options for effective treatments if an antibiotic is needed eventually due to a secondary infection. Using unnecessary antibiotics also puts you at risk for side effects and adds extra cost.

It’s important not to share your antibiotic or take medicine that was prescribed for someone else, and don’t save an antibiotic to use the next time you get sick. It may not be the right drug for your illness.

To better understand antibiotics, its best to break them down into common infections, common antibiotics, and the top antibiotic classes as listed in

Other Sore Throats Don’t Need Special Medicine So Why Does Strep Throat

Most sore throats are caused by viruses, which cannot be cured with medicine you can only relieve the aches and pains. Viruses heal on their own and cannot be cured with antibiotics or other medicines.

Strep throat is caused by a bacterium. Infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Strep throat can lead to more serious illnesses, so it’s important to get it treated.

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What Is The Best Medication For Strep Throat

The best medication for treating strep throat should be discussed with your doctor and will depend on your medical history and current medications you may be taking.

Best medications for treating strep throat
Drug name
300 mg every 6 hours Kills the bacteria causing strep throat Skin problems, yellow appearance of skin, nails, or whites of eyes

Dosage is determined by your healthcare provider based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and weight. Other possible side effects exist. This is not a complete list.

Rapid Antigen Detection Tests

Treatment of Strep Throat

RADTs have been used for four decades to help physicians diagnose GABHS. There are three principal types of RADTs: latex agglutination, enzyme immunoassay , and optical immunoassay . All rapid tests begin with a throat swab. Acid extraction is then used to solubilize GABHS cell wall carbohydrate. An immunological reaction detects the presence or absence of the Lancefield group A carbohydrate, a GABHS-specific cell-wall antigen . Results are available in fewer than 10 min. The process does not require specially trained personnel.

A number of commercially-available RADTs exist. These tests show three characteristics. First, the sensitivity of RADTs is generally lower than specificity . Systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide a point estimate of RADT sensitivity of approximately 85%, and specificity of approximately 96% . Second, rapid tests vary widely in sensitivity and specificity. Review studies and clinical guidelines report varying ranges . And third, validation tests provide evidence that sensitivity in the clinical environment may be significantly lower than suggested by manufacturers .

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What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision

Check the facts

  • You’re right. Most of the time, sore throats go away on their own. It may take a few days or up to a week, depending on the cause.
  • Sorry, that’s not right. Most of the time, sore throats go away on their own. It may take a few days or up to a week, depending on the cause.
  • It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Most of the time, sore throats go away on their own. It may take a few days or up to a week, depending on the cause.
  • You’re right. Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful and costly. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
  • Sorry, that’s not right. Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful and costly. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
  • It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful and costly. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
  • Sorry, that’s not right. Most sore throats are caused by a virus, such as a cold. Antibiotics won’t work for sore throats caused by a virus.
  • You’re right. Most sore throats are caused by a virus, such as a cold. Antibiotics won’t work for sore throats caused by a virus.
  • It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Most sore throats are caused by a virus, such as a cold. Antibiotics won’t work for sore throats caused by a virus.

How You Get Strep Throat

Group A strep live in the nose and throat and can easily spread to other people. It is important to know that some infected people do not have symptoms or seem sick. People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

People can get sick if they:

  • Breathe in those droplets
  • Touch something with droplets on it and then touch their mouth or nose
  • Drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as a sick person
  • Touch sores on the skin caused by group A strep

Rarely, people can spread group A strep through food that is not handled properly . Experts do not believe pets or household items, like toys, spread these bacteria.

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How Do You Prevent Ear Infections

You may be able to prevent ear some ear infections if you:

  • Use earplugs when swimming or diving
  • Dry ears thoroughly after swimming
  • Never use cotton swabs inside the ear canal
  • Wash hands properly to prevent the spread of viruses
  • Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds
  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Get vaccinated regularly as your doctor recommends
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