Can the body fight off strep throat itself or are antibiotics necessary?
This may sound strange, but my answer is yes to both. This is not really an either/or kind of question.
In most cases, the body’s immune system will indeed fight off strep throat, which is a throat infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. In fact, the fever that often accompanies strep throat is part of your body’s immune response. Antibiotics kill off an infection, too, but they work faster.
Antibiotics are advised because they reduce the risks of developing a potentially serious complication from strep throat. Possible complications include ear and sinus infections, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, meningitis and kidney problems. Strep throat is also contagious, so if you can reduce the duration of the infection, you reduce the time that it is transmissible.
Because of antibiotic side effects and the increasing problem of drug-resistant bacteria, you are wise to be cautious about using antibiotics if they are not necessary. In my opinion, strep throat is a prudent use of antibiotics, but the choice is up to you and your doctor.
Antibiotics are not appropriate for sore throats caused by viral infections, which represent the vast majority of sore throats in both adults and children. Strep should be positively diagnosed by a throat culture before antibiotics are prescribed. Some doctors now use a rapid culture test that can identify a strep infection within about 30 minutes.