Is It Bad to Let Strep Throat Go Untreated?

January 19, 2022

Is It Bad to Let Strep Throat Go Untreated?- AFC Urgent Care

In short, yes, it is. Although strep throat is relatively harmless when it is treated in a timely manner, it can cause some serious complications when it’s left untreated.

Our AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail team further explains below, so keep reading!

How Common Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a relatively common infection, as between 11,000 and 13,000 cases happen each year.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. You can get strep by inhaling airborne droplets or coming in contact with the bacteria on surfaces or shared personal items. We’ve listed the most common strep throat symptoms below.

Common Strep Throat Symptoms

  • A sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F or higher
  • A sore, red throat with white patches
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing

What Will Happen If Strep Throat Goes Untreated?

When left untreated, strep throat can cause potentially life-altering complications, such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can lead to painful and inflamed joints, a specific type of rash or heart valve damage.

If you experience strep throat symptoms, it’s important to get a strep throat test ASAP to confirm your diagnosis. Our AFC center offers rapid strep tests that provide accurate results in 15 minutes or less.

Complications Caused By Untreated Strep Throat

  • Rheumatic fever—an autoimmune disease that may develop after a strep throat infection. It’s especially common among children ages 5–15, although older teens and adults may develop the disease.
  • Otitis media—when strep throat bacteria move into the inner ear and cause an ear infection. Bacteria in the inner ear can cause severe pain, dizziness and nausea.
  • Meningitis—occurs when the fluid surrounding the membranes of the brain and spinal cord become infected. In rare cases, meningitis can be fatal.
  • Pneumonia—when the bacteria that cause strep throat move into the lungs.
  • Toxic shock syndrome—in rare cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. If the bacteria release toxins in multiple organs while in the bloodstream, it causes toxic shock syndrome, which can result in catastrophic organ failure.

Need a strep test? Don’t hesitate to stop by our AFC center today!

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