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5 Health Complications of Untreated Strep Throat

5 Health Complications of Untreated Strep Throat

You might think of strep throat as a mild health issue that affects you for a week or so from time to time. What many people don’t realize is that you can develop complications from strep if you ignore your symptoms and avoid treatment. 

Although the illness itself can be mild or even symptomless, you should be on the lookout for signs of complications if you get strep and forgo the care you need. 

Millions of cases of strep throat occur annually, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that up to 25,000 people develop invasive group A strep disease. 

When strep is invasive, it means the strep-causing bacteria has spread to other parts of your body where bacteria do not normally reside. Invasive group A strep disease can occur in many forms and can be life-threatening. 

Due to the risks that come with invasive strep, physicians Clifton Etienne, MDMichael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD, urge you to visit Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado, for urgent care whenever you have a sore throat. 

Strep isn’t the only cause of a sore throat, but it’s one of the main symptoms. Your urgent care visit could save you from future complications of an untreated streptococcal infection. 

Invasive group A strep disease and other strep complications can take many forms according to where the infection spreads. Here are a few examples of possible complications that can arise from unaddressed strep:

1. Abscesses

An abscess is a pocket of pus filled with dead white blood cells that migrate to the area to fight your infection. Strep can lead to abscesses in or around your tonsils, called peritonsillar abscesses, or in your neck. 

If an abscess ruptures, the material can travel elsewhere in your body and cause additional complications. For example, if an abscess ruptures and the liquid gets into your lungs, you may develop pneumonia.

2. Ear infections

If strep bacteria travels into your ear canal, you can get an ear infection. Ear infections cause ear pain and, when recurrent, can even lead to hearing loss. While some ear infections clear up on their own, you’ll want to visit Westmed Family Healthcare so our team can monitor your infection and provide treatment as necessary. 

3. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung infection. As we’ve established, bacteria from strep can cause pneumonia if it gets into your lungs and airways. Pneumonia can cause an array of symptoms that vary in severity including fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, and joint pain. 

4. Sinus infections

Sinus infections occur when bacteria infect your sinuses, which are the air-filled cavities in your skull behind your face. A sinus infection may be mistaken for a cold and can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, facial pressure, fatigue, and fever. 

5. Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever is a rare but serious disease that can affect many parts of your body. It’s an inflammatory condition that causes swelling in important organs like your brain or heart. 

When rheumatic fever comes from strep, it typically appears around five weeks after your initial infection. It’s not an infection itself, but rather an inflammatory response from your immune system. 

Want to make sure you or your child doesn’t develop complications from strep? Receive the proper treatment from our team at Westmed Family Healthcare. To schedule a same- or next-day urgent care visit, call our office, walk in, or book an appointment online today. 

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