Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria that can cause certain infections, including strep throat. Antibiotics don't help infections caused by viruses.
Like other drugs, antibiotics can have side effects. Using antibiotics when they are not needed may put your child at risk of harmful side effects with no benefit. Also, when antibiotics are used when they are not needed, bacteria become resistant to treatment, which means that the antibiotics are no longer effective. That's why it's so important for doctors to make sure antibiotics are needed before they prescribe them.
For more information about the safe use of antibiotics, visit the Oregon AWARE website.
A strep test helps determine whether or not your child will benefit from antibiotics for a sore throat. When your child has a sore throat, the doctor may need to test for strep in order to make a good treatment decision. If the test is positive, then your child may have strep and would benefit from an antibiotic.
If the test is negative (that is, there's no sign of strep), the sore throat is probably caused by a virus. Antibiotics should not be used because they have no effect on infections caused by viruses.
According to Oregon AWARE, to soothe a sore throat caused by a virus encourage your child to:
Download the 'Treatment Guide: Sore Throat' on the Oregon AWARE website. This guide shares ways to help relieve the discomfort of sore throats caused by viruses. It also includes information about over-the-counter pain relievers, including safety precautions for children.