David Poon, BSc. Immunology and Infection, PharmD Student
That’s so RADT
Don’t worry, RADT isn’t the new swag or woke as the kids put it these days. Instead, I think it’s something much cooler. The Rapid Antigen Detection Test is a quick and effective way to determine if you have Strep throat caused by bacteria and if you may require antibiotics. It’s a quick and simple test that takes less than 10 minutes to do.
Bacteria or Virus
In most circumstances, Strep throat is viral in origin. In that case, antibiotics are not required and symptoms usually resolve on their own within 2 weeks. If the cause is viral, then use Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to treat the pain, in addition to plenty of water and rest. However, if the Strep throat is caused by bacteria, specifically Streptococcus pyogenes (A.K.A. Group A Strep; A.K.A. Strep throat), then the RADT can pick it up. A quick test you can do at home to determine if you or someone you know may have Strep throat is to go through the Modified Centor Score.
Modified Centor Score
No cough = 1 point
Fever >38 degrees Celsius = 1 point
Swollen lymph nodes under your jaw, at the top of your neck = 1 point
Swollen tonsils or secretions from the tonsils = 1 point
Age 3-14 = 1 point
Age 15-44 = 0 point
Age 45+ = -1 point
If you or someone you know scored 3 or 4 on the Modified Centor Score, they should proceed to get a RADT done.
Where can I get a RADT?
Good question! You don’t have to book an appointment at your doctor’s office (unless that’s where you choose to go). Most pharmacies carry a point-of-care RADT, and most pharmacies have a prescribing pharmacist. They can write a prescription for an antibiotic if the Strep test is positive and you are symptomatic for Strep throat. Call your local pharmacy to see if they can do the RADT.
The Bottom Line
If you have the worst sore throat of your life and it doesn’t seem to be a cold, it could be Strep throat. Check out our previous article describing the difference between a sore throat and Strep throat. If you aren’t sure whether it might be Strep throat, don’t hesitate to contact your local health care professional to find out more.
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1. Ciccotelli, W. C. (2018). Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis. RxTx.