Rapid Strep tests are a very common procedure done in medical offices to check for Strep throat infections. It takes 5-10 minutes to get the results.
What to expect?
For a rapid strep test, one of our trained medical team members will swab the back of the throat and tonsils to collect bacteria from the infected area for testing. You will be asked to open your mouth and tilt your head back. If it is necessary, a tongue depressor may be used, this can help to have a better view of the back of your throat. Then she will rub a sterile cotton swab across the back of your throat, your tonsils, and any other sore areas that may have bacteria on them for just a few seconds. The swab will collect a sample of the secretions being produced in the back of your throat. A good sample of throat secretions is needed to make sure the test is accurate. A person must remain still during the procedure so that the staff is able to collect enough secretions for an accurate test. Finally, the bacteria are analyzed to see whether Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria are causing the sore throat. The test may cause momentary gagging because the back of the throat is a sensitive area, but it should not cause you pain, only slight discomfort.
When should I get a strep test?
If you have symptoms of a strep throat infection. Some symptoms of strep throat include: A fever of 101 F or higher, swollen lymph nodes on your neck, small red bumps on the back part of the roof of your mouth, red and swollen tonsils, white patches at the back of your throat, a rash, headache, and pain in abdomen or vomiting.The symptoms of strep usually start to appear within two to five days of exposure to the bacteria.
What do results from a strep test mean?
A normal or negative test means that it is less likely strep bacteria are present in the back of your throat. Sometimes, negative results are wrong. This means that you may have a negative rapid strep test result and still possibly have strep throat. A throat culture may be done if the rapid strep test result is negative or we may just treat you with antibiotics if we have a high suspicion that you have strep throat. If your strep test is positive then you do have the bacterial infection or you are a carrier of it.
A positive test means that strep bacteria are present. After this confirmation, your doctor will likely start you on an oral antibiotic treatment. Amoxicilli and cephalexin are two commonly prescribed antibiotics that treat strep throat. Let your doctor know about any medication allergies. Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help decrease throat pain and reduce fever, if the pain is severe, Prednisone will help reduce the swelling and pain faster. If antibiotics are taken the medication will reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, as well as the risk of complications and the likelihood that you will be able to spread the infection to others. After 48 hours on antibiotics you should no longer be contagious.
The best way to prevent strep throat is to avoid contact with anybody who has been diagnosed. You can do this the same way we prevent ourselves from other illnesses, wash your hands often and avoid sharing utensils and toothbrushes. If you have been diagnosed with strep, get a new toothbrush on the fourth day of antibiotics to avoid re introducing yourself to the bacteria once it has cleared.