Strep throat is diagnosed by taking a swab of the back of your throat. This is used for a rapid strep test performed right in the office. Sometimes a physician can diagnose strep throat just from your symptoms, especially when the throat is bright red and covered in white spots. The lymph nodes in your neck may also be swollen. Often a fever is present while a cough is not.
Sometimes the throat swab will be sent to a laboratory to do a culture if the rapid strep test is negative, but your doctor still thinks you have a bacterial infection.
Without treatment, strep throat can develop into rheumatic fever. This could harm the valves of your heart. If you think you have strep throat, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Properly treated with the right antibiotics, your sore throat is usually cured within 10 days.
Always finish your antibiotics, even if you begin to feel better. If your sore throat does not seem to be going away, call your healthcare provider immediately, but do not stop your medication unless your physician tells you to.