How Long Can Strep Throat Go Untreated?

Strep throat is more common this time of year. According to the CDC, between 11,000 and 13,000 strep throat cases happen each year, but they’re highly preventable and treatable.

If you start to experience strep throat symptoms, though, it’s important to treat this infection ASAP. Our AFC Urgent Care Hixson team explains why below.

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. This type of bacteria spreads through airborne droplets and coming in contact with fomites, such as strep bacteria on doorknobs.

We’ve listed the most common strep throat 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

When Should Strep Throat Be Treated?

If you have a sore throat that’s accompanied by a fever or one of the symptoms we’ve listed above, you likely have strep throat. If this is the case, medical experts suggest visiting a healthcare provider within 48 hours to get the necessary treatment, such as antibiotics. Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are necessary to get rid of the infection and make sure that it doesn’t spread through the body.

If strep throat isn’t treated, however, it can cause serious health complications. If you believe you may have strep throat, visit our AFC center to get a rapid strep test for an accurate diagnosis, which will help you stay healthy this winter!

Complications Caused By Untreated Strep Throat

  • Rheumatic fever—an autoimmune disease that may develop after a strep throat infection. It’s especially common among children ages 5–15, although older teens and adults may develop the disease.
  • Otitis media—when strep throat bacteria move into the inner ear and cause an ear infection. Bacteria in the inner ear can cause severe pain, dizziness and nausea.
  • Meningitis—occurs when the fluid surrounding the membranes of the brain and spinal cord become infected. In rare cases, meningitis can be fatal.
  • Pneumonia—when the bacteria that cause strep throat move into the lungs.
  • Toxic shock syndrome—in rare cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. If the bacteria release toxins in multiple organs while in the bloodstream, it causes toxic shock syndrome, which can result in catastrophic organ failure.

Our AFC Urgent Care Hixson team is here for you now and always! Don’t hesitate to visit us today.