If you don’t think you will experience any concerning side effects or health complications when strep throat goes untreated, think again!

While strep throat when treated correctly and quickly is relatively harmless, it can cause some life-altering complications if it isn’t treated in a timely manner. Our AFC Urgent Care Fountain City team explains why below.

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus. The most common way to get strep throat is by touching your eyes, nose or mouth after being exposed to these bacteria.

Strep throat can also be spread by coughing, sneezing or sharing food or drink with someone who’s infected. If you aren’t sure whether you have strep throat, we’ve listed some of its common symptoms below.

Common Strep Throat Symptoms

  • A sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F or higher
  • A sore, red throat with white patches
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing

How Harmful Are Untreated Strep Throat Side Effects?

They can be quite harmful. When strep throat bacteria spread to the rest of the body, they can cause inflammatory illnesses, such as scarlet fever and rheumatic fever.

Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, it’s important to get antibiotics to treat the infection and eliminate the bacteria from the body. Failure to do so could result in the below-mentioned complications and/or recurring strep throat symptoms for months on end.

Potential Complications Caused By Untreated Strep Throat

  • Abscesses (infected pockets) in your throat
  • Infected lymph nodes in the neck
  • Middle ear infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Rheumatic fever, which can cause damage to the heart, joints, nervous system and skin. This is rare, and it occurs mainly in children ages 5 to 15.
  • Scarlet fever—a bright red, sandpaper-like rash that starts on the face and neck and spreads through the body; it can be caused by strep throat or strep skin infections.
  • Toxic shock syndrome—a rare but potentially life-threatening condition caused by strep bacteria releasing toxins into the body

Are you concerned that you may have strep throat? If so, visit our AFC center to get a rapid strep test! We provide molecular tests that show accurate results in 15 minutes or less.