Strep throat is caused by streptococcus bacteria and is usually diagnosed in a clinical setting after a physical examination and rapid antigen test, according to Mayo Clinic. A throat culture may also be collected, although a rapid antigen test that detects strep bacteria within just minutes is generally used to expedite the diagnosis and allow for faster commencement of treatment.
A throat culture involves taking a sterile swab and rubbing it across the tonsils and back of the throat. The sample of the secretions is then sent to a lab for testing. The biggest disadvantage to this procedure is that it can take up to two days to get the results back. The rapid antigen test is much faster. It works by detecting antigens in the throat, explains Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of strep throat include a sudden sore throat, pain when swallowing, red tonsils with white spots, loss of appetite and a fever. Strep throat is commonly treated with a course of antibiotics, according to WebMD, with amoxicillin and penicillin being the most popular options. Those diagnosed with strep throat should stay at home until 24 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the condition to others.