Strep throat is often dismissed as a routine throat infection. Unfortunately, untreated strep throat can escalate into a serious health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that of the several million group A strep infections that occur every year, 11,000-13,000 cases are severe and result in 1,100-1,600 deaths.
Our experts at St. Michael’s Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, don’t want to alarm you. That said, we want to emphasize the importance of treating strep throat quickly. Here’s more about the complications of strep throat.
All about strep throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the Group A Streptococcus bacteria. It usually presents with symptoms like a sore throat, fever, and difficulty swallowing. While strep throat is common, especially among children and adolescents, it’s usually quickly resolved with antibiotics.
When strep throat isn’t treated
Untreated strep throat can lead to complications that should not be overlooked.
A well-known complication of untreated strep throat is scarlet fever. This condition occurs when the bacteria release toxins, causing a distinct red rash, high fever, and a characteristic “strawberry tongue.” Immediate treatment is essential to prevent scarlet fever from progressing.
Strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever — an inflammatory condition that affects the heart, joints, skin, and nervous system. Rheumatic fever is a serious and potentially life-threatening complication.
In some cases, untreated strep throat can lead to kidney infections, particularly in vulnerable populations and preschool-age children. These infections can result in long-term kidney damage if not addressed promptly.
Abscesses near the tonsils
Strep throat can cause a pus-filled swelling between the tonsils and the walls of the throat. When these abscesses are not appropriately treated, the infection can spread to the neck, roof of the mouth, and the lungs, which impairs breathing. Sometimes, children with recurrent strep may need to have their tonsils removed.
Treatment for strep throat
Treatment for strep throat is straightforward. We offer antibiotics, which quickly alleviate symptoms and prevent infection progression.
If you or your child has strep, it’s also important to reduce the spread of the infection to others.
Strep throat is highly contagious, and early treatment helps reduce the risk of transmission. Stay home and avoid gatherings until you are fever-free. Also, wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with others until symptoms subside.
Although strep throat seems like a routine illness, it should be taken seriously. It has the potential to cause complications. Contact St. Michael’s Elite Hospital or use this website to make an appointment if you or your child has symptoms like a sore throat, fever, redness at the back of the throat, or trouble swallowing. You’ll get a prompt diagnosis and treatment.