Millions of people visit the doctor each year for a sore throat. Doctors prescribe antibiotics for the majority of cases, but new guidelines are hoping to change that.
Ten year-old Sarah Garcia is not feeling well. "My mom brought me because I had a sore throat," she said.
Millions of people head to the doctor every year in the U.S. with the same complaints. Now, new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America say most sore throats should not be treated with antibiotics because viruses are behind most infections, not bacteria.
Less than a third are actually due to strep, so you want to make sure that it
is strep when you prescribe antibiotics because antibiotics won't work against
the viruses," said Dr. Stephanie Shaps with the William F. Ryan Community Health Center
Research shows doctors prescribe antibiotics for as many as 70 percent of patients,
but only a small percentage actually need them.
Strep is likely causing a sore throat if the pain comes on suddenly, it hurts to swallow and a person is running a fever. Patients with a sore throat from a virus may also have a cough, runny nose, a hoarse voice and mouth sores. The new guidelines recommend doctors do a test to confirm strep is the culprit before giving antibiotics.
"The most effective antibiotic against strep is penicillin," Dr. Shaps said.
There are also some simple solutions to soothe a sore throat. Doctors suggest over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, warm fluids like tea with honey, throat lozenges, and plenty of rest.
Sarah's rapid strep test was negative, so for now her mom will follow that advice.
"Just give her plenty of fluids," said Garcia's mom, Magdalena Diaz.
And her doctor is sending out her cultures for additional testing to make sure it's just viral.
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