Will I Get Sicker If I Don't Treat Strep Throat?

Strep throat is common during the winter, and it’s most common among children.

Due to strep throat being spread by contact and airborne droplets, it often spread in schools. If your child gets sick with strep throat, though, antibiotics can ensure that your child will feel good as new in a few days.

Failure to treat strep throat can result in concerning side effects, and our AFC Urgent Care Gastonia team further explains why below.

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus.

Strep lives in the nose and throat and can be spread by coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by contact, such as touching a doorknob with strep bacteria or sharing food or drink. If you experience any of the symptoms that we’ve listed below, you likely have strep throat.

Common Strep Throat Symptoms

  • Sudden sore throat
  • Red tonsils that have white spots on them
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

What Happens When Strep Throat Isn’t Treated?

Failure to seek medical attention or failure to treat strep throat can result in potentially dangerous side effects and complications.

If you suspect your child has strep throat, get a rapid strep test. If he or she tests positive for the infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic, and you should see symptoms resolve in a couple of days. It’s important for your child to continue taking the antibiotic until the medicine is finished, which will ensure that complications from untreated strep throat, such as the ones we’ve listed below, don’t occur.

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.

Visit our AFC center for a rapid strep test today! You don’t need an appointment, and we provide accurate test results within 15 minutes or less.