Can A House Call Doctor Perform A Rapid Strep Test?

Can you get a rapid strep test with a house call doctor? In short, yes! Here’s why a house call doctor is a simpler option to get this diagnostic test than visiting your local clinic.

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What is Strep Throat?

Streptococcal Pharyngitis, or strep throat, is a contagious bacterial infection that generally affects the throat and tonsils. It is caused by the Group A Streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) and is a common condition, especially among children and adolescents.

Strep throat is known for its distinct symptoms, including a sore throat, swollen and red tonsils, fever, and difficulty swallowing. While it can be uncomfortable, it is typically a mild illness that resolves within a week with proper treatment such as rest, hydration, and nutrition.

Proper diagnosis is important to distinguish strep throat from other throat infections, as it may require antibiotic treatment if it does not go away on its own. In some cases, it can lead to complications like rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation.

  • Group A Streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes)
  • Spread through vulnerable contact with infected persons or surfaces and respiratory droplets
  • Severe sore throat
  • Painful swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen and tender neck lymph nodes
  • White patches or pus on the tonsils
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Skin rash (less common)
  • Sudden onset of symptoms, typically without cold-like symptoms

How rapid strep tests work

Many sore throats are caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. A rapid strep test is helpful because it can distinguish between the viral infection behind a sore throat and the bacterial infection that causes strep.

Suppose your strep test comes back positive for group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GAS). In that case, your doctor will recommend antibiotic treatment for you, but only if they believe that you have a bacterial infection. In contrast, if your result comes back negative, there’s no reason to take an antibiotic — it won’t help with your symptoms anyway.

How Does the Test Work?

Rapid strep tests, also known as rapid antigen detection tests, are an efficient way to diagnose strep throat in a medical setting. They work by detecting the presence of Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GAS) antigens in a throat swab sample.

Here’s what to expect during your test:

  • Throat Swab: A healthcare provider uses a sterile swab to collect a sample from the back of the patient’s throat. The swab is gently rubbed over the tonsils and the surrounding area.
  • Antigen Detection: The collected swab sample is then exposed to a reagent that can identify GAS antigens. If these antigens are present, it indicates an active streptococcal infection.
throat swab
  • Rapid Results: The test typically provides results within a matter of minutes. A positive result suggests a strep infection, while a negative result implies the absence of strep bacteria.

Can You Get Tested At Home?

While rapid strep tests are practical in a clinical setting, at-home strep testing options are limited and have certain caveats. There are no FDA-approved direct-to-consumer at-home strep tests, meaning you won’t find over-the-counter kits for strep testing at your local pharmacy.

DIY Kits

At-home strep test kits are accessible online, yet many are primarily designed for healthcare providers and are explicitly marked as not intended for home use. While these kits offer a DIY approach to testing for strep throat, their reliability may differ from that of tests conducted by healthcare professionals. For a more accurate diagnosis, seeking care from a pharmacist, clinic, or doctor’s office, where trained professionals can perform the test and guide the interpretation of the results, is advisable. Appointments through telehealth-exclusive services are also an option, but it’s important to note that these virtual consultations won’t provide in-person strep testing. They primarily offer guidance and prescription services, making them beneficial for talks rather than for actual testing.

Concierge Doctor Services

In contrast, concierge medical services offer the convenience of in-home strep testing. This option can be particularly advantageous for families with young children or individuals who prefer the personal care of a healthcare provider coming to their location. The benefit of concierge services is the presence of a licensed healthcare provider who can perform the test at your home, ensuring accuracy and convenience. However, knowing that such services often come at a higher cost than traditional clinical settings is essential.

Strep Throat Timeline: What to Expect

Upon exposure to the streptococcal bacteria, the incubation period typically lasts 2-5 days. During this time, an infected person may not yet display symptoms but can already transmit the bacteria to others.

Strep throat is most contagious during the acute phase, which includes symptoms like a severe sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes white patches on the tonsils.1 This acute phase usually lasts for 2-5 days.

Diagnosis and treatment are essential components of managing strep throat. It is vital to consult a professional for a proper diagnosis, as strep throat symptoms can be similar to those of viral throat infections.

person in surgical equipment taking a nasal swab test

Once diagnosed, antibiotic treatment is prescribed. Following the initiation of antibiotics, most individuals experience symptom improvement within 24-48 hours.

Strep throat is very contagious and can be transmitted through various means, primarily through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or even talking. Direct contact with an infected person, such as sharing eating utensils or kissing, can also facilitate transmission.

Touching contaminated surfaces and the face can introduce the bacteria into the body. Proper hygiene, like frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with infected individuals, is crucial to prevent the spread of strep throat.

How is Strep Throat Transmitted?

Strep throat is extremely contagious and can be transmitted through several means:

  • Respiratory Droplets: Infected individuals can release respiratory droplets containing the streptococcal bacteria when they cough, sneeze, talk, or breathe. Others in close proximity can inhale these droplets, leading to potential infection.
  • Direct Contact: Strep bacteria can also spread through direct contact with an infected person. Activities like kissing, sharing eating utensils, or drinking from the same glass can facilitate transmission. Close personal contact can increase the risk of infection.
  • Contaminated Objects: Strep bacteria can survive on surfaces for a limited time. Contact with objects or surfaces contaminated by respiratory secretions of an infected person, followed by touching the face, particularly the mouth or nose, can introduce the bacteria into the body. Proper hygiene, including handwashing, avoiding contact with contaminated objects, and sanitizing high-touch surfaces after use prevents transmission.

Can You Overcome Strep On Your Own?

Strep throat can often resolve independently, but this isn’t always the case. If you do opt for self-care, there are home remedies that can help manage symptoms. Rest, staying well-hydrated, and over-the-counter pain relievers can alleviate discomfort.2

Gargling with warm salt water along with using throat lozenges may also provide relief. However, it’s important to note that antibiotics are typically prescribed to ensure complete recovery and prevent potential complications.

Strep throat is highly contagious, so practicing good hygiene is crucial to protect other household members. This includes frequent handwashing, using separate eating utensils and glasses, and avoiding close physical contact until you’re no longer contagious.

If strep throat symptoms persist for more than a few days or worsen, or if you develop complications like a high fever or difficulty breathing, it’s advisable to seek medical evaluation. Timely diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are essential to prevent more severe complications such as rheumatic fever.

If you suspect you have strep throat and want a definitive diagnosis, consulting a healthcare professional is necessary to ensure the most appropriate course of treatment.

House call doctors and urgent care clinics: which to call?

House call doctors and urgent care clinics share some similarities: both employ licensed clinicians to diagnose and treat patients on same-day appointments. The most significant difference is the convenience of where you’ll be treated.

Urgent cares are physical buildings that typically require waiting a long time surrounded by other sick patients in the lobby. With house call doctors, on the other hand, you receive care in the comfort of your own home. There is no need to wait in the lobby; answer the door and let the doctor take care of you.

You can even call a house call doctor in the evenings, on weekends, or simply when it’s convenient for you because these doctors make their schedules around your availability instead of you fitting into theirs.

What else can house call doctors do?

Generally, you can expect to receive physicals and routine checkups from your local House Call Doctor. However, it is becoming increasingly common for these medical professionals to handle everything from uncomplicated diseases to acute illnesses, and even diagnostics and lab tests. This means that if you can find one near your home or office, they can help with more than just typical stomach bugs or coughs.

Get A Rapid Strep Test With A House Call Doctor

Concierge MD is an in-home medical service that can make home visits across the country. If you want to learn more about us and get a rapid strep test at home, give us a call or book an appointment using the button below. We make getting the care you need easy!


[1] A Study on Acute Membranous Tonsillitis, Its Different Etiologies and Its Clinical Presentation in a Tertiary Referral Centre. Sharma K.

[2] Using medication: The safe use of over-the-counter painkillers.

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