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.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
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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