Do Home Strep Tests Really Work?

Do Home Strep Tests Really Work?

Sore throats have different causes, and one of these causes is a bacterial infection known as strep throat.

Traditionally, diagnosing strep throat required a visit to the doctor’s office for a throat culture, where a sample was taken and sent to a lab for analysis. Now, you can perform the test yourself in the comfort of your home.

Rapid strep tests provide quick and accurate results, but do home strep tests really work?

Here’s all you need to know.

What’s a rapid strep test?

Man with strep symptoms

A rapid strep test is a diagnostic tool used to quickly determine if you have a strep throat infection.

Unlike traditional testing, you can perform this test at home and get your result within a few minutes.

The test detects the presence of a specific bacteria which is responsible for causing strep throat.

To perform this, you collect the sample by swabbing the back of your throat and tonsils. Then, you can analyze this using the rapid strep test kit.

With the rapid strep test, you’ll know whether what you’re dealing with is strep throat, or your symptoms are caused by another reason. Accurate and timely diagnosis of strep throat is crucial to initiate appropriate antibiotic treatment and prevent serious complications like rheumatic fever.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is a bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes).

If you have a strep throat, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

Strep throat is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. While most sore throats are caused by viral infections, strep throat requires specific antibiotic treatment.

Why are strep tests done?

Woman with strep throat

Strep tests, such as throat cultures and rapid strep tests, are performed to diagnose strep throat. If you present with symptoms that align with this condition, these tests are conducted to diagnose whether you have a strep infection.

Since strep throat requires antibiotic treatment, testing helps differentiate it from viral throat infections, as antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.

Aside from confirming the condition and treatment, performing a strep test is also important because of these reasons:

  • It prevents the spread of infection
  • It can avoid unnecessary antibiotic use
  • It can prevent complications

Do at-home strep tests work?

At-home strep tests, such as rapid strep tests, are a convenient option so you can learn about your condition and seek medical help as necessary.

These tests work by detecting the presence of Group A Streptococcus bacteria in your throat swab sample. While they offer quick results within minutes, the accuracy of at-home strep tests may vary.

False negatives can occur, which can lead to a missed diagnosis. On the other hand, a false positive result can lead to unnecessary treatment with antibiotics.

If your result is negative yet you experience symptoms, it’s recommended to follow up with a confirmatory throat culture performed by a healthcare professional for accurate results. Consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Where can I buy an at-home strep test?

Where can I buy home strep test

You can purchase at-home rapid strep tests online and in-store.

For your convenience, you can purchase at-home test kits here and perform it on your own. Ordering from a reliable source would ensure the quality of the kits that you receive. These kits also have instructions that teach you how to test for strep throat at home so you’re properly guided.

Nurse-administered strep tests are also available here.

Are at-home strep tests worth it?

Here are a few reasons why using an at-home strep test is helpful in gaining insight into your infection status.


Though at-home strep tests may not always provide accurate results, they’re affordable, highly accessible and convenient to use. When you use the test, see to it that you follow the instructions carefully to lessen the risk of false negative and false positive results.

Professional evaluation

A strep throat diagnosis requires a comprehensive evaluation by your healthcare provider. They will consider your symptoms, and medical history and sometimes perform a physical examination. At-home tests may not account for other factors that could contribute to throat symptoms, which is why you need confirmatory testing with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

Proper treatment

Strep throat requires antibiotic treatment to eliminate the bacteria and prevent complications. Your healthcare provider’s evaluation is crucial to determine the most appropriate antibiotic and dosage. Self-diagnosis with at-home tests may result in inadequate or incorrect treatment.

Disease control

Although at-home strep tests have limitations, they can provide a valuable preview and assist you in taking the next steps toward disease control. By knowing your condition, you can prevent spreading the infection to others.

At-home strep tests can serve as an initial step in raising awareness and prompting you to seek further medical guidance for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

What do the results mean?

Man with strep throat

The interpretation of the results of a rapid strep test follows these general guidelines.

Positive result: A positive test result indicates the presence of Group A Streptococcus bacteria in the throat. This suggests a strep throat infection and would require medical attention and treatment with antibiotics. Your next step would be to consult your healthcare provider for confirmation and appropriate management.

Negative result: A negative test result suggests that GAS bacteria weren’t detected in the throat at the time of testing. However, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of a strep infection. False negatives can occur, and if symptoms persist or worsen, it is recommended to consult your doctor for further evaluation.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if your symptoms suggest strep throat, such as severe sore throat, swollen tonsils and fever. If you’re taking antibiotics but your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Seeing a doctor is also recommended if you suspect a strep infection based on your symptoms or exposure to confirmed cases.

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