The risk of strep throat complications increases, if the infection is left untreated. Get a brief idea on what is this infection, and what could be its potential repercussions.
Strep throat in one of the common types of throat infection, commonly caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. The infection typically affects children between 5 – 15 years of age, although any one might get infected. An interesting fact about these pathogens is, they are already present in the throat or skin of healthy people. In fact, most people may carry these pathogens without experiencing any kind of infection.
However, in some cases, it does give rise to infections like strep throat, etc. The bacteria is dangerously contagious, and can easily spread through the contaminated droplets of the infected person. In some cases, the bacteria may also spread through contaminated articles such as door knobs, phones, etc. The main reason behind the occurrence of strep throat complications in children and adults is the spread of the bacteria to other parts of the body and giving rise to secondary infections. And this occurs when the primary infection does not receive proper treatment.
Outcomes of An Untreated Condition of Strep Throat
As I have mentioned, pathogens that cause strep throat may spread to other parts such as the tonsils, sinuses, skin, middle ear, and in some severe cases, even blood. Once the bacteria reach such places, they start spreading the infection even there thus, worsening the condition further. Situation might become more severe, when the infection triggers a bout of inflammatory conditions in the body such as:
It is characterized by the spread of a bright red rash that envelops the whole body. And this is typically accompanied by a high fever. Other symptoms which may be caused by this complication include reddening of the folds of skin in various parts of the body, flushed face, and the tongue becoming red and bumpy.
This condition refers to the inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys (glomeruli). It occurs usually post a week or two after the person has recovered from the strep infection. What happens is, the infection triggers an overproduction of antibodies in the body. And these antibodies tend to settle in the tiny filters of the kidneys thus, causing inflammation. Symptoms that may occur due to this condition include hypertension, edema, and fatigue.
An autoimmune complication that may arise from strep throat, and perhaps severe one is rheumatic fever. What happens is, the bacteria that cause the strep infection contain a protein that is similar to the one that is present in certain tissues of the body. So this might confuse the immune system into attacking the body’s own tissues, taking them for some infectious agents. So this attack results in an inflammatory disorder known as rheumatic fever.
This condition is a rare occurrence in the United States, and many other developed nations. However, the developing countries and the underdeveloped ones remain highly susceptible. This complication is known to be a severe one as it affects the heart, joints, nervous system and skin. Symptoms that may be caused due to this include fever, joint pain, swollen joints, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and formation of painless nodules beneath the skin.
Symptoms and Treatment
The common symptoms that indicate the onset of strep throat may include:
- Sore and scratchy throat
- Painful swallowing of food and fluid
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck
- Tonsils may become red, warm, and swollen
- Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, rash and stomach aches.
Treatment commonly includes the administration of antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin. They help in reducing the duration and severity of the condition, preventing recurrences and complications, and the chances of spreading the infection. These drugs may not suit everyone, so for them, other medications could be prescribed. Usually within a span of 1-2 days, patients start feeling better. However, if the symptoms persist more than that, then paying a visit to the doctor is recommended.
Strep throat complications if not attended to can give rise to life-threatening situations, especially when rheumatoid fever is in the picture. This disease, as already discussed, interferes with the working of the heart, and the nervous system. But it is best not to let such complications to occur in the first place. And this could be done by recognizing the symptoms of the infection, and treating it immediately.