Yes, rapid strep tests are available for purchase from amazon.com or over the counter at other vendors and do not require a doctor’s prescription.
For children, whether the test is negative or positive, you still need to see a doctor.
Children are at higher risk than adults for serious health consequences from group A streptococcal infections, including rheumatic heart disease and a kidney disease called glomerulonephritis. Hence, with children, we are more careful not to miss the diagnosis due to a false negative rapid strep test.
Yes, if you have a positive home strep test, it is quick and easy to see a doctor online and get the antibiotics you need.
If your home rapid strep test is negative, we recommend seeing a physician to determine if you have another cause of your symptoms, such as a viral illness, COVID-19, a sinus infection, or other illness. There is also a risk of a false-negative home rapid strep test. You may need additional testing.
If the test is positive, you’ve got an answer for why you or your child is sick. You will need a prescription for antibiotics. Early treatment of strep throat with antibiotics prevents the serious complications of strep and helps you or your child feel better quickly. Sometimes a home strep test can help you decide if you should contact one of our doctors today or wait until tomorrow to see if they are worse. It can help you decide if you need to keep your child home tomorrow and allow you to rearrange your family plans, find childcare, etc.
The problem is what to do when a home rapid strep test is negative. Your child really should be seen by a doctor anyway to get a back-up culture test and possibly additional testing, such as a COVID test. If you just wait a few days to see if your child gets worse, it may be too late to prevent the rare but serious consequences of group A streptococcal infection or other infections.