Strep throat is a common infection, as between 11,000 and 13,000 Americans will get it each year. It’s also more common during the winter seasons, but it remains highly treatable.

Below, our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team provides further info on strep throat and the importance of treating it quickly, so keep reading!

What Is Strep Throat?

According to the CDC, strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by a bacteria group called A Streptococcus, or group A strep.

Strep lives in the nose and throat and can be spread by coughing or sneezing. When you cough or sneeze, this spreads respiratory droplets into the air that contain strep bacteria. Strep throat is an easy infection to catch, and we’ve listed some of its symptoms to be on the lookout for 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

Will Strep Throat Get Worse If It Is Left Untreated?

Yes, it will. Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, you will need antibiotics to get better if you are diagnosed with strep. Antibiotics kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.

If strep throat is left untreated or isn’t treated with antibiotics, however, it could potentially caused life-altering side effects and symptoms. You should always seek out medical attention if you believe you have strep throat, as a few days of taking antibiotics is far better than suffering from recurring strep symptoms or dealing with any of the complications we’ve listed below.

Potential Complications Caused By Untreated Strep Throat

  • Abscesses (infected pockets) in your throat
  • Infected lymph nodes in the neck
  • Middle ear infection, or otitis media
  • 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

Our AFC center offers rapid strep tests that provide accurate results in only 15 minutes or less! You don’t need an appointment to get one, so don’t hesitate to stop by today.