How Effective is Penicillin for Strep Throat?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 February 2019
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Taking penicillin for strep throat is generally very effective. Penicillin is an antibiotic, which is a type of drug designed to kill bacteria. Strep throat is caused by bacteria, and in most cases, penicillin antibiotics can kill bacterial infections. In addition to penicillin, there are other antibiotics that doctors may prescribe, including amoxicillin and erythromycin. Penicillin is typically the most popular choice for treating strep throat, but these other antibiotics are also occasionally prescribed and may be particularly useful for people who are allergic to penicillin.

Doctors generally have to perform a diagnosis before prescribing penicillin for strep throat. Diagnosing strep throat normally involves taking a sample of throat mucus with a throat swab. The sample is examined under a microscope, and a doctor can usually tell from this examination if the bacteria that causes strep is present. Sometimes doctors can make an educated guess as to whether a person has strep throat just by looking at the throat with a light. When white blisters are present on the back of the throat, that usually indicates strep.


Once the strep diagnosis has been made, penicillin for strep throat may be prescribed. The exact dosing of penicillin is not always the same for every person, but most people have to take it for at least 10 days and are additionally advised to take all pills even if they begin to feel better before the pills are gone. Not completing a round of antibiotics for strep or any other bacterial infection means that the infection could come back quickly because there's a chance it wasn't completely eliminated. Many people find that when infections return as a result of not finishing all prescribed medicine, the infection is a few times worse than it was the first time and occasionally requires stronger antibiotics to treat than what was initially prescribed.

Even though penicillin for strep throat is usually effective, there are some mild side effects that may occur as a result of taking it. Some people are allergic to penicillin and might experience hives and shortness of breath when they take it. It is also not uncommon to experience nausea and diarrhea when taking penicillin. Other side effects include yeast and intestinal infections, which can occur because penicillin kills not only bad bacteria, but also good bacteria. Many doctors advise patients on penicillin to eat yogurt, which contains lots of good bacteria that may replace what is lost.


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Post 4

I went to the doc for strep and he just gave me one shot of penicillin but no pills. I waited 20 minutes then was released. I was scammed.

Post 3

Penicillin works for strep but it's important to be patient and finish the whole course. When I was on penicillin for my strep throat, I thought that it was not working because my symptoms of strep throat did not lessen until day four of treatment.

My fever went down by the second day but it took another two days for my throat to start feeling better. By day ten though, I was feeling great. It's a good thing that I didn't stop taking it.

Post 2

@anamur-- I'm not a doctor or anything, but all three of my kids have had strep throat in the past couple of years and they were all treated with penicillin. Penicillin definitely works for this infection, especially when strep is diagnosed quickly.

As far as I know, doctors prefer penicillin over other antibiotics for strep. If someone is allergic to penicillin or if they have built a tolerance, then one of the other antibiotics can be tried.

Some people have recurrent strep throat infections and after a while, the penicillin stops working. So it's good to have these alternative antibiotics. But for most cases, penicillin works just fine.

Post 1

I know that penicillin, erythromycin, or clindamycin is usually given for strep throat symptoms. But is one of these drugs more effective? Does penicillin have any advantages over the others?

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