You might think that a bout with strep throat is just like any other winter illness. You figure that you can get antibiotics if you need them, but then assume you’re fine. But that’s not always the case.
Sometimes, strep throat can present the risk of serious complications. They don’t occur frequently, but when they do, it’s important to know what they are in advance. Dr. Ruchir Thakkar of Cermak Immediate Care explains more about the possible complications of a strep throat infection.
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is an infection with the Streptococcus A bacterium, which is extremely contagious. You can catch it by sharing drinks or utensils with someone; from droplets coughed out by an infected person; or from touching a doorknob and then touching your eyes. Symptoms of strep throat can include the following:
- Throat pain that comes on very quickly
- Difficulty swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, which may have white spots on them
- Tiny red spots on the area of the back of the roof of your mouth
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
If you think you have strep throat, you should visit our practice as soon as possible.
Possible complications of strep throat
Strep throat can present possible complications, which are rare but not unheard of. Here are six symptoms to watch for:
1. The strep bacteria can spread
If you’re infected with strep bacteria, they can spread to nearby body parts, causing:
2. Ear and sinus infections
Middle-ear infections and sinus infections are relatively common complications of strep throat because of their location to each other in the face. Many people don’t recognize how connected their ears, nose, and throat are to one another or the fact that having problems with one increases the likelihood of problems with another.
3. Blood infections
Blood infections are a condition also known as sepsis or septicemia. When your blood infection is caused by strep, it’s particularly dangerous because your blood is carried throughout your body, including to all your other vital organs. Left untreated, this can even be fatal.
If you get one of these so-called secondary infections, it can be especially serious. That’s why seeking treatment early is so important.
Abscesses in your throat
An abscess is technically a pocket of pus. Having one or several in your throat is just as unpleasant as it sounds. It can make you feel like you’re swallowing gravel and is extremely painful.
You’re at greater risk of developing this complication if you smoke, have a tonsil infection, abuse illegal drugs like cocaine, or have a weakened immune system. Abscesses are treated by lancing and draining them, then taking the full course of the antibiotics we prescribe. Make sure to keep your follow-up appointment because we’re seeing occasional cases of antibiotic resistance.
This complication occurs when the strep bacteria spread to your kidneys and cause inflammation. This disease has some very scary effects, beginning with blood in your urine and foamy urine to possible vomiting blood and even renal failure. It can be treated, but again, early treatment is best.
This complication is much more likely in youths between the ages of 5-15, but it can affect anyone of any age. Rheumatic fever is an inflammation that spreads bacteria through your body like wildfire. It can damage your heart, joints, and nervous system. This is a very serious complication that can occur quickly in untreated strep throat, so you need to be seen immediately at the first signs of strep.
As you now know, a strep infection is nothing to take lightly, and seeking immediate treatment is essential. You can walk into any one of our convenient locations without an appointment. You can also feel free to call or send us a message.