10 Safe and Effective Medications Against Strep Throat

Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is a common bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils. It is caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, specifically Streptococcus pyogenes. Strep throat is highly contagious and is typically spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Strep throat can cause a range of symptoms, which usually appear 2 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Sore Throat: The throat becomes red, swollen, and painful, making swallowing difficult.
  • Fever: A high fever, often above 101°F (38.3°C), may accompany the infection.
  • Enlarged Tonsils: The tonsils may appear red and swollen with white or yellow patches or streaks of pus.
  • Headache: Some individuals may experience headaches or body aches.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: The lymph nodes in the neck may become tender and swollen.
  • Rash: In some cases, a fine, sandpaper-like rash may appear on the skin, especially in younger children.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Strep throat can cause nausea and vomiting, especially in children.

It is important to note that some viral infections, such as the common cold, can also cause similar symptoms to strep throat. Therefore, a proper diagnosis is essential for appropriate treatment. To diagnose strep throat, a healthcare provider will typically perform a rapid strep test, where a swab is taken from the back of the throat. If the rapid test is positive, it confirms the presence of group A Streptococcus bacteria. In some cases, a throat culture may be done to confirm the diagnosis if the rapid test is negative.

Prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial to alleviate symptoms, prevent complications, and reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Fortunately, there are several safe and effective medications available to combat strep throat. In this article, we will explore ten medications commonly prescribed by healthcare professionals to treat strep throat, providing relief and promoting a speedy recovery.

Safe and Effective Medications Against Strep Throat

The following  medications offer effective relief and promote a speedy recovery for individuals suffering from strep throat:

1.      Penicillin: As one of the oldest and most widely used antibiotics, penicillin remains a primary treatment for strep throat. It is highly effective against group A Streptococcus bacteria, which is the main culprit behind the infection. Available in various formulations, including oral tablets and liquid suspensions, penicillin is safe for most individuals and is especially suitable for children and pregnant women.

2.      Amoxicillin: Amoxicillin, a derivative of penicillin, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic frequently prescribed for bacterial infections, including strep throat. It comes in various forms, such as chewable tablets and oral suspensions, making it convenient to administer to children.

3.      Cephalexin: Belonging to the cephalosporin class of antibiotics, cephalexin is an effective alternative for treating strep throat, especially for individuals allergic to penicillin-based antibiotics. Its mechanism of action is similar to penicillin, targeting the bacteria responsible for the infection.

4.      Azithromycin: For those with penicillin allergies or resistance, azithromycin serves as a viable alternative. This macrolide antibiotic effectively combats strep throat and is often prescribed as a short-course treatment, enhancing patient compliance.

5.      Clindamycin: In cases where other treatment options are ineffective or unsuitable, clindamycin, a lincosamide antibiotic, may be prescribed for treating strep throat. It is a suitable option for individuals with penicillin allergies or cases of penicillin resistance.

6.      Erythromycin: Another macrolide antibiotic, erythromycin, can be used as an alternative treatment for individuals unable to take penicillin. Available in various formulations, such as tablets, capsules, and oral suspensions, it provides multiple options for administration.

7.      Cefdinir: A cephalosporin antibiotic, cefdinir exhibits broad-spectrum activity against various bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes responsible for strep throat. Its availability in liquid form makes it convenient for young children who may have difficulty swallowing pills.

8.      Clarithromycin: Similar to azithromycin, clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic with a spectrum of activity that effectively targets strep bacteria. It comes in various formulations, offering flexibility for patients’ preferences and needs.

9.      Cefuroxime: Cefuroxime, a second-generation cephalosporin, may be prescribed for strep throat when other antibiotics prove ineffective. It is available in oral tablet form, providing an alternative option for treatment.

10.   Levofloxacin: In cases of severe or persistent strep throat infections, levofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, may be prescribed. It is typically used when other antibiotics have failed or when the bacteria are resistant to other treatment options. However, due to potential side effects and its reserved use, levofloxacin is usually considered when other options are exhausted.

Home remedies

While antibiotics prescribed by healthcare professionals are the primary treatment for strep throat, there are also several home remedies that can help alleviate symptoms and support the body’s healing process. It’s important to note that these remedies are not meant to replace medical treatment but can be used as supportive measures to provide relief. Here are some home remedies for strep throat:

1.      Saltwater Gargle: Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle several times a day. Ensure not to swallow the saltwater.

2.      Honey and Lemon: Mixing a tablespoon of honey with freshly squeezed lemon juice in warm water can provide a soothing effect on the throat. Honey has natural antibacterial properties, while lemon can help reduce inflammation.

3.      Warm Fluids: Drinking warm fluids, such as herbal teas, warm water with honey, or warm soup, can help keep the throat hydrated and provide relief from discomfort.

4.      Cold Foods: Eating cold or frozen foods, such as popsicles or ice cream, can help numb the throat and ease pain.

5.      Throat Lozenges or Sprays: Over-the-counter throat lozenges or sprays containing ingredients like benzocaine or menthol can temporarily numb the throat and provide relief from soreness.

6.      Rest: Getting plenty of rest allows the body to focus on fighting off the infection and supports the healing process.

7.      Humidifier: Using a humidifier in the bedroom can add moisture to the air and help prevent throat irritation caused by dry air.

8.      Avoid Irritants: Avoiding irritants such as smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can prevent further irritation of the throat.

9.      Soft Foods: Eating soft and easy-to-swallow foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, or smoothies can help avoid additional irritation to the throat.

10.   Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce throat pain and alleviate fever.

It is essential to remember that while these home remedies can provide temporary relief, they do not treat the underlying bacterial infection. Antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional are necessary to fully eradicate the strep bacteria and prevent complications. If you or a loved one suspect strep throat, seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. Follow the healthcare provider’s advice and take all prescribed medications as directed to ensure a full recovery.


 Strep throat, caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacterium, is a common and highly contagious infection that can cause discomfort and pain. Fortunately, there are several safe and effective antibiotics available to combat this bacterial infection. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and appropriate prescription of these medications. Proper adherence to the prescribed treatment plan, including completing the full course of antibiotics, is essential to ensure effective relief, promote a speedy recovery, and prevent complications associated with strep throat. Always follow the guidance of healthcare providers and seek medical attention promptly for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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