Healthy Living

Strep Throat: Complications

Strep Throat: Complications

Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection which causes inflammation and swelling of the throat, pharynx, as well as tonsils. In some cases, the adenoid may also become infected and swollen. This bacterial infection is caused by a species of bacteria that is called group A streptococci and is also known as the group-A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS) or Streptococcus pyogenes.

Most of the time, a person becomes affected by the strep throat infection after exposure to an individual who is already infected with the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Sometimes, this bacteria can start living harmlessly in your throat or nose for a few time without doing any infection, and after that can be triggered by immune system dysfunction, anxiety or stress, leading to infection. If the strep throat infection is left untreated, then it can cause some serious complications, such as damage to your heart valves, and it can even lead to kidney swelling. 


In our body, there is the appearance of hollow spaces in our skull around our nose and eyes, which are called the sinuses. Due to the complication of strep throat infection, your sinuses will become infected, and you will start experiencing severe pain in your face and head along with some pressure. This condition normally becomes resolved on its own, however, in some cases, you may have to take antibiotics.

Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic fever is one of the most severe complications of strep throat infection. If this infection is left untreated, then the bacteria can remain in your tonsils, which release antibodies. These direct your immune system to attack the other organs of your body mistakenly such as skin, joints, and the heart, which may lead to rheumatic fever. Also, it can produce a persistent immune response in the body of the child. The rheumatic fever involves the joints and can damage the valves as the well as the muscle of our heart, causing scarring which can eventually interfere with our blood flow. The sufferers of the rheumatic fever usually have to own the scarred heart valves which are surgically repaired. However, in some cases, the damage can become permanent and can lead to the heart failure.


Glomerulonephritis can occur after the strep throat infection with particular strains of the strep bacteria. This develops after producing antibodies by your immune system to the microscopic filters of your both kidneys. Usually, this condition affects the children ranging between 7-years-old and 10-years-old. Some therapies have been discovered to help children recover.

Scarlet fever

All of the symptoms of strep throat infection and a little red rash, that first appears as small red bumps on the abdomen and the chest. Then, this rash may start spreading all over the body. This is similar to sunburn and also feels like an unfinished piece of the sandpaper. It is often more red in the groin areas plus armpits. The strep rash remains for two to five days. There is usually also reddening in some parts of the tongue, and the tongue bumps look larger compared to usual, creating an appearance that is known as ‘strawberry tongue’. Scarlet fever usually affects children who are under the age of 18-years-old.

Throat Abscesses

Throat abscess is another strep throat complication. It involves the development of an abscess behind your throat. This can produce severe pain and illness.

Middle Ear Infections

Strep throat complication can also involve inner ear infections. The strep throat bacteria move from our throat to our inner ear by using our Eustachian tube. The fluid which usually drains into our throat starts moving up into our ear as well as accumulates against our eardrum. So, we get middle ear infection due to strep throat complications.

Key Takeaways

  • Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection that causes inflammation and swelling of the throat, pharynx, as well as tonsils.
  • Many are just carriers of the infection, without showing any signs and symptoms. 
  • Possible complications of a strep throat infection include rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, glomerulonephritis, and middle ear infections.