Strep throat is characterized by the swelling and inflammation of the throat, lymph nodes and tonsils. While sore throats are caused by viral infections, strep throat develops due to bacterial infections of the streptococcus bacterium. Furthermore, whereas sore throats may not require treatments, strep throat does need medical attention and treatment.

Who is Vulnerable to Strep Throat?
Strep throat is an airborne condition that can be easily spread from one person to another by breathing the same air as or coming in contact with an infected person. Although children are more often affected by strep throat than other age groups, adults can acquire the infection as well.

 It is believed that the reason children are more likely to develop strep throat than adults is because they spend more time playing and interacting closely together in such settings as daycares and schools. Furthermore, they are less likely to practice proper hygiene than most adults.

However, when adults do contract strep throat, they are typically more likely to experience complications than children are. Adults also often have more intense symptoms than children and usually need much more time to recover. Additionally, strep throat in seniors can be quite serious and very difficult to overcome.

Possible Complications Related to the Infection
It is essential to note that complications of strep throat are somewhat uncommon; however, they can definitely occur if the condition is not promptly treated with antibiotics. These complications can occur either due to the infection itself, or the body’s immune response to the condition. Listed here, are some the complications that can arise due to the infection.


  • Middle Ear Infections (Otitis Media)
  • Infections of the Pharynx (Retropharyngeal Abscesses)
  • Infections of the Lymph Nodes
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome
  • Peritonsillar Abscesses

Possible Complications Related to the Body’s Immune Response
In some cases, the body’s immune system will attack healthy tissues in response to untreated strep infections. When this occurs, serious complications can develop requiring intensive medical treatments. The most common of these serious complications are listed below.

  • Rheumatic Fever
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Inflammation of the Kidneys (Glomerulonephritis)
  • Pediatric Autoimmune Neuro Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections

Typical Treatments for Strep Throat
Since there are so many potential complications associated with untreated strep throat, patients who are diagnosed with the condition must be treated with antibiotics immediately. Furthermore, it is very important for them to take all of their medication to prevent the infection from returning.

Some of the most common antibiotics prescribed for strep throat are listed below.

  • Oral Penicillin V (Pen-Vee-K) – Preferred for Adults
  • Injectable Penicillin G (CR-Bicillin) – Adults
  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil) – Preferred for Children
  • Amoxicillin-Clavulanate (Augmentin) – Children
  • Cephalosprin Antibiotics (Cephalexin, Cefprozil, Cefuroxime and Cefdinir) – Penicillin-Allergic Persons
  • Macrolide Antibiotics (Erythromycin, Azithromycin and Clarithromycin) – Preferred for Penicillin-Allergic Individuals

Common Symptoms of Strep Throat
The symptoms of strep throat usually develop within about one to five days after being exposed to the bacteria and can range from mild to severe. To prevent the potential complications listed above, it is essential for people to see a doctor right away if they experience one or more of the following medical conditions.

  • Inflamed and Sore Throat
  • Swollen Tonsils
  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes
  • Body Aches and/or Stiff Joints
  • Fever and Fatigue
  • White Spots or Patches on the Tonsils or Back of the Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing and/or Swallowing
  • Blue or Grey Lips
  • Drooling

While complications associated with strep throat are somewhat rare, they can still occur and go on to become worse. This is especially true if the condition is not treated promptly and correctly. However, when people seek medical attention at the onset of symptoms, they can avoid these complications and cure their condition in no time.

Author:  Michelle Holincheck, FNP

For more cold and flu information, visit Careworks.