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What Is Post-Streptococcal Disorder?

What Is Post-Streptococcal Disorder?

Key Takeaways

  • Causes of post-streptococcal disorder
  • Treatments for post-streptococcal disease
  • Diagnosis

What is Post-Streptococcal Disorder?

Post-streptococcal disorder (PSD) is a combination of many autoimmune disorders which manifest when your body's immune system is disturbed as a result of strep throat. An autoimmune disorder is a disorder which occurs as a result of the body's immune system attacking its own organs due to confusion between healthy tissue and bacteria. PSD is an infection that mainly attacks the central nervous system (CNS) among other body organs. Post-streptococcal disorder is caused by a Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, also know as group GAS (group A streptococcus). This type of autoimmune disorder causes problems with your sleep, heart, and joints, and it can cause psychiatric complications.

What are the causes of Post-Streptococcal Disorder
PSD's major causative agent is group A streptococcus bacteria. GAS is a common type of bacteria, which is mostly found on your skin and throat. You may have GAS bacteria on your body but produce no symptoms. If the symptoms are present, the most common are:

  • Impetigo - This is a skin infection which opens into sores. It may also result from swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and fever.
  • Strep throat - This is a condition which is characterized by tonsil inflammation, painful swallowing, fever, tenderness of the lymph nodes, headache, and a white coating on your tonsils.
  • Scarlet feverThis is a special type of fever, which is accompanied by a red tongue, red rashes on your skin, and a sore throat.

Signs and Symptoms of Post-Streptococcal Disorder
In case PSD interferes with your central nervous system (CNS), the resulting symptoms can cause behavioral changes, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Restlessness
  • Discomfort

Post-streptococcal Disorder can also lead to some negative emotions, such as:

  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair
  • Agitation

Post-streptococcal Disorder can lead to some symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is a type of anxiety that makes people experience a chain of bad thoughts, feelings, and ideas. OCD can also lead to some strange behaviors where one feels a compulsion of doing some things, such as arranging, counting, hoarding, and even repeatedly checking things out.

PSD has also been linked to chorea, a condition which leads to spontaneous movements and rapid jerking movements.

GAS bacteria can also lead to a condition known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. This is a kidney disorder which occurs in old age, but it is common in children between the ages of 6 and 10. The symptoms of post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis include:

  • Pain of the joints
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Swelling and stiffness of joints and muscles
  • Swelling of the face and eyes
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Production of urine that is rust-colored
  • Increase in urine production and frequency of urination

How is Post-Streptococcal Disorder diagnosed?

During the diagnosis of Post streptococcal Disorder, your health care professional may decide to check for signs and symptoms. If your health care provider suspects that you have Post streptococcal Disorder such as post streptococcus glomerulonephritis, he/she may opt for the following lab tests:

  • Urinalysis. In urinalysis, a microscopic, chemical, and physical analysis of urine is performed to check for the presence of GAS. Urinalysis involves many tests used to measure and detect many components that pass through the urine, especially bacteria.
  • Kidney biopsy. This test involves taking a small piece of your kidney tissue for deep examination. A kidney biopsy is strictly done at a hospital. The two available types of biopsy known as open and percutaneous biopsy may be performed. A kidney biopsy is not often needed.
  • Anti-DNase B. This is a type of blood test which is aimed to look at number of antibodies produced to fight GAS. Elevated levels of specific antibodies are an indication of PSD. If anti-DNaseB test is performed together with a titer test, it can perfectly identify more than 90% of streptococcal infections.
  • Serum ASO. Antistreptolysin O (ASO) is a blood test which is used to identify the number of antibodies acting against streptolysin O. Streptolysin O is a chemical produced by GAS bacteria. Antibodies are chemical substances that are produced after detection of foreign harmful microorganisms such as bacteria.
  • Measures of serum complement levels. This is a blood test that is used to measure the level of proteins in your body. The complement system contains a group of proteins that move freely in your blood and work together with the immune system. Elevated levels of complement proteins indicate the presence of bacteria in the blood.

Treatment for Post-Streptococcal Disorder

It is very clear that there are no medications which are directly used to cure PSD. However, the available treatments are aimed to relieve and also limit the long term complications and risks associated with the disorder.

To treat behavioral changes and emotional disorders, the following medications are used:

  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety drugs

You can also treat obsessive-compulsive disorder by using a combination of drugs and therapy. You doctor can prescribe you an antidepressant commonly known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Types of SSRIs are:

Your physician may also prescribe other types of medications, such as:

  • Blood pressure and diuretic medications.  These medications are mainly used to prevent swelling and also get rid of high blood pressure.
  • Antibiotics. They are antibacterial drugs which are used to kill all species of streptococcus bacteria remaining in your blood system.
  • Neuroleptic drugs and dopamine depleting medications. These are drugs which are mainly used to treat chorea.
  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs are used to take control of sore throats and swelling, but they are less effective.

For home medications or remedies to Post streptococcal Disorder, your doctor may advise you to consume fewer salts to lower your blood pressure and also reduce swelling.

What are the long term complications of PSD?

If you look at post-streptococcus disorder very closely, you will realize that its severity depends on the affected body part. Some central nervous system disorders can be treated with the correct combination of drugs and also physiotherapy. As there is no specific treatment for PSD, your doctor will help you manage your symptoms. If this is done, PSD will improve in a few weeks or months.

Below are potential complications associated with Post-streptococcal disorder:

  • High blood pressure. Also known as hypertension.
  • Hyperkalemia. Characterized by increased blood levels of potassium.
  • Acute and chronic kidney failure.
  • A kidney disease known as end-stage.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis.
  • Nephritic syndrome. Characterized by the abnormal presence of proteins in the urine.

Bottom Line

Post-streptococcal disorder is a very serious autoimmune condition which results in many body complications. It is a disorder which takes a few weeks or months to heal but when not taken care of, can lead to other serious complications, such as heart failure, kidney failure, and high blood pressure.

This disorder gets worse without treatment, resulting in chronic kidney failure in a small number of adults. At times, Post-streptococcal Disorder can progress to cause complete kidney failure disease, which requires either a kidney transplant or kidney dialysis.  

Treatment of some known streptococcus diseases can help prevent post-streptococcal disorder. This disease can manifest in a variety of locations in the body, including the organs, musculoskeletal, and central and circulatory systems. Strep can cause a variety of complications, each of which requires immediate medical attention due to their severity.