My family has a love-hate relationship with Strep Throat. Strep seems to love us, and we hate the pain, fever, shivers and antibiotics we’re subjected to when Strep comes along multiple times a year.
The beginning of school year is especially hard on kids and parents. My friends and their kids seem to contract Strep at least once and it’s a miserable time for the entire family. If you’ve ever had Strep you know exactly what I am talking about – yes, this is exactly how we feel – miserable pain when trying to swallow, red and white at the back of the throat, fevers, fatigue and more misery.
This past long-Labor-day-weekend hit with fun and fare, but quickly turned sour when the entire family was stricken with another bout of Strep infection. We just had one nasty infection at the beginning of summer, and about six months ago when the year began. Each round is perfectly aligned with fun-filled weekends, when doctors have lighter, unpredictable schedules and ERs are full of urgent care issues.
Personally, I have immense respect and understanding about the public and personal health dangers of untreated Strep infections – infection spreading to lymph nodes and the ear, and increased risk for rheumatic fever etc. I honestly think any infection affecting the young should be taken seriously and must receive medical attention.
Strep, short for Streptococcal Pharyngitis happens to be a common throat infection in kids between 5 and 15 years of age – comprising nearly 37% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 32%–43%) of throat infections in children of all ages, and about 5-15% in adults. The infection is spread through respiratory secretions and through direct contact with infected persons. A rapid Strep test is administered by the medical staff to validate a Strep infection within 10 minutes. Antibiotics for 10 days are strongly recommended along with proper rest and fluid intake. Viral throat infections are also very common and do not require antibiotics – they get better on their own between 3-5 days on average.
Antibiotics are critical for treating Strep infections and this post in no way seeks to undermine the importance of antibiotics. I am allergic to Penicillin, so Strep is no fun because it is killed best by Penicillin and Amoxycillin. As I was beating myself up for getting the infection, I started looking for alternative home therapies for Strep.
And guess what, I beat Strep in 2 days this time around, without antibiotics, lots of natural therapies and fluids, and immense amounts of rest. My 8-year old almost got over the infection in 3 days even though he had a more advanced level of infection than me – red and white blisters all over the back of this throat, along with fever and trouble swallowing.
I am happy to share what worked for us, and you’re free to try these remedies popular in India and in the West for some time now. If they work for you, please share your experience too.
Step 1 – Clearing Up the Red and White Stuff with Apple Cider Vinegar
The worst part about Strep is the pain when swallowing anything – the inflammation turns the inside of the throat red, and the bacterial growth turns the remainder of the throat white. The experience is plain horrible!
Apple Cider Vinegar, also known as ACV was the magical find of the 2016 Labor Day weekend. I usually have ACV lying around at home and I dislike the smell and the taste despite it being deemed elixir for the gut and general health. I read online (here, here and here) that mixing ACV with warm water and gargling with the mixture clears the bacterial growth. I did not believe it – till I saw it work. We gargled 3 times a day with a small teaspoon of ACV, in half a cup of warm water. I won’t discuss the gory details of what I saw in the bathroom sink – but let me tell you – the throat was clearing in just 1 gargling session! By day 2 I had no more inflammation in the back of my throat, and my kid mostly cleared up most of his infection over 3 days. Best thing – no pain while swallowing after just 1 round of gargling!
Suggested dosage – gargle 3-4 times a day for 3 days
Step 2 – Soothing the Throat with Turmeric, Honey and Milk
Heat up a glass of warm milk (2% is ideal because it’s not too creamy) along with a teaspoon of turmeric. Let the turmeric heat in the milk for at least 1-2 minutes and let the milk cool a bit. Add raw, unheated honey to the mix. I use Tarweed honey brought fresh from the Farmer’s market. It works like a charm to reduce inflammation, soothe the throat, and provide antimicrobial healing powers. This mixture is a must-have for viral throat infections too – a time-tested remedy used in every Indian household.
Suggested dosage – 2 times a day, preferably morning and at bed-time
Step 3 – Clearing the Throat with Ginger and Honey
Strep infection or even a viral throat infection cause coughing and pain. To stop the coughing from getting worse and aid healing, ginger and honey work like a charm. I grate organic ginger, squeeze the juice out and add raw, unheated honey to the mix. The mix is a little bitter like ginger is expected to be, but honey tempers the taste pretty well even for kids. Ginger has a heating effect on the body, so it is important ginger not be taken in excessive quantities – unless your body is used to the heat.
Unlike the West, adding lemons to honey is not recommended in India, especially when you have a cough. Lemons are rich in Vitamin C, but they have a cooling effect on the body, further exacerbating the cough.
Suggested dosage – 2 times a day, preferably morning (after breakfast because ginger is hot for stomach) and at bed-time
Step 4 – Hydrating with Warm Fluids
Water is critical in washing out toxins and infections from our body. It is important to have lots of warm water, soups and broths to keep the body hydrated. When illness strikes, fluids are definitely more important than solids. So keep drinking fluids to nourish and replenish the body’s lost fluids.
Step 5 – Rest, Rest and Rest
Obviously, sickness indicates our body needs rest to rebuild and reignite. So we must catch up on sleep as much as possible, and let the body do its job.
Though I didn’t have to take Ibuprofen to feel better, my kid did need the extra help to feel comfortable and sleep well.
My kid typically takes a week (7 days) to recover from Strep and the active infection lasts nearly 4 days. His active infection cleared up in 2 days and he’s been rapidly recovering since. His total recovery time was 4 days.
I typically take 4-5 days to recover fully, with active infection lasting 2-3 days. My active infection cleared up in 1 day, and I was fine in 2 days. Absolutely fine in 2 days! I even went
I am so glad I didn’t have to do another round of antibiotics this year, and that we recovered well without the usual 48-hour of pain till antibiotics kick into gear. I am very hopeful I can continue putting this remedy to test in future successfully!