Strep Throat (GAS) (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Steven Doerr, MD
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
In this Article
- What is strep throat and what causes strep throat?
- What are the signs and symptoms of strep throat?
- Are the signs and symptoms of strep throat different in various age groups?
- Is strep throat contagious?
- How is the diagnosis of strep throat established?
- What are home remedies, OTC, and medical treatments for strep throat?
- What are the potential complications of strep throat?
- How can I prevent contracting strep throat?
- Strep throat facts
- Just a Sore Throat or Strep - Slideshow
- Take the Strep Throat Infection Quiz!
- Infectious Mononucleosis - Slideshow
- Strep Throat (Streptococcal) Infection FAQs
What are the potential complications of strep throat?
The possible complications of strep throat include:
- Acute rheumatic fever (see below),
- Glomerulonephritis (see below),
- Otitis media (middle ear infection),
- Toxic shock syndrome (a rare but severe complication which may result in the failure of multiple organs and may thus be fatal),
- Peritonsillar abscess or retropharyngeal abscess (walled off infection containing GAS bacteria and pus which may encroach upon the structures in the back of the throat or invade and rupture into deeper structures which may ultimately be fatal), and PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep) - (see below).
Acute rheumatic fever (ARF): While rare, this complication of an untreated or inadequately treated strep infection can have devastating and lifelong consequences. It is believed that due to incomplete eradication of the strep bacteria, certain GAS develop an immune response which may attack the joints leading to permanent arthritis. More concerning is the autoimmune response to the heart valves which may damage them and may result in heart failure. Many studies have shown that effective and appropriate antibiotic therapy for strep throat vastly reduces the likelihood of developing ARF.
Glomerulonephritis: Similar to the aberration of the immune response seen with ARF, autoantibodies may develop to the microscopic filters (glomeruli) of the kidney. This complication more commonly affects children between 7 to 10 years of age. While more common than acute rheumatic fever, glomerulonephritis carries a less ominous prognosis. Helpful therapies exist and most children make a complete recovery and do not experience long-term kidney damage. Unlike ARF, the development of glomerulonephritis is not necessarily prevented by effective antibiotic treatment.
PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep): Specialists debate the proposed link of a GAS infection in children with the development and/or worsening of obsessive-compulsive behaviors or tic disorder (Tourette's syndrome in the extreme). One area being researched in this controversial condition is whether antibiotic therapy affects the development of or severity of the disorder.
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