Once the doctor makes the diagnosis of strep throat, he or she will have three major goals in mind: The first is to control your fever. The second is to control your pain. The third is to control the infection and kill off the bacteria. This can be accomplished with the following treatments.
The doctor can recommend antipyretics for the fever. These can include ibuprofen, in the form of Motrin® or Advil®. It can also include Tylenol or acetaminophen and naproxen or Aleve®. Such medications bring down the high fever that is such a common symptom of strep and will help you feel better relatively quickly.
Such antipyretic (acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprofen) also work for pain. You can sometimes take acetaminophen along with either naproxen or ibuprofen to get a double dose of a painkiller. Otherwise, the doctor can order a narcotic pain reliever if the pain is really bad. This can include Darvocet N-100 or medications like Tylenol-3 or Vicodin. Remember that these medications contain Tylenol in them and should never be taken along with over the counter Tylenol. This would result in an unhealthy overdose of Tylenol which can do a great deal of liver damage and can be lethal.
Doctors use a variety of antibiotics in order to treat the strep throat and to make it go away for good. The most common antibiotic used for strep throat in the past was penicillin. Then some strep infections became resistant to penicillin and doctors have used it less and less over the course of time. Antibiotic resistance is common in strep throat infections so doctors keep having to change antibiotics to something the strep throat bacteria aren’t as resistant to.
In place of penicillin, many doctors use cephalosporin antibiotics such a Ceclor® (cefaclor), Keflex (cephalexin) or Ceftin. These are antibiotics that are distantly related to penicillin but have a much less chance of strep throat resistance.
Other choices for doctor’s antibiotics for strep throat include erythromycin-based antibiotics. This can include erythromycin itself or Zithromax (azythromycin). Zithromax is a good choice because it only has to be taken for 5-6 days and it lasts for a long time in the body. Other antibiotics require a ten day course of antibiotics.
It is a good idea to take the whole prescription your doctor gives you. This is because of the resistance problem we talked about. If you only take the prescription until you feel better, you only get rid of the most sensitive bacteria. This leaves the most resistant and dangerous bacteria left and you wind up with an infection with strep that is even harder to kill off. If you take the whole prescription, you are killing off the entire infection and you won’t likely get it back. The only people that get recurrent antibiotic-resistant strep throat are those that have large and convoluted tonsils that harbor bacteria and keep the antibiotic from working effectively.