What Happens When Strep Throat Goes Untreated?

It isn’t easy to ignore a sore, scratchy throat, but it’s often easier to avoid the hassle of going to the doctor to find out the underlying cause. Although 75% of sore throat visits to the doctor end up not being treated for strep throat, there is good cause to get checked just in case. If you do indeed have strep, antibiotics may be necessary. If a sore throat that winds up being strep throat goes untreated, potentially severe complications could occur. At-home strep throat tests can help alleviate the worry and get treatment fast.


If untreated, strep throat can cause:

Rheumatic Fever

If strep throat goes untreated, the bacteria could continue to grow and, in return, create an ongoing immune response from the body. The continual response could cause your body to start confusing other organs, joints, skin, and the nervous system as a part of the infection. In some cases, the heart is the organ that can be affected, and potential heart failure can occur. 

Scarlet Fever

Strep throat can cause a rash called scarlet fever if left untreated. Scarlet fever is a red, sandpaper-like rash that begins to form on the face and neck before spreading to other areas of the body. 

Middle Ear Infection 

Untreated strep throat can cause a middle ear infection, also called Otitis Media. The strep bacteria in the middle ear may cause nausea, dizziness, and extreme pain. 


If strep throat is left unchecked, it could lead to an inflammatory disease of the kidneys, specifically the glomeruli. If the glomeruli become inflamed, they will not filter waste properly and allow protein and blood to pass into the urine. 


Untreated strep throat can cause impetigo, a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. Impetigo can occur when streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria enter the top layer of the skin, usually from a cut or abrasion. 

Toxic shock syndrome

Although rare, untreated strep throat can lead to toxic shock syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a strep infection.  


There has been a correlation between strep infection and a rare condition called pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with group A streptococci (PANDAS). Children who have this condition often experience intensified symptoms of neuropsychiatric conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and tic disorders. However, there are more studies being done.


Some additional complications of untreated strep throat could be: 

  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Infected lymph nodes
  • Arthritis
  • Abscess
  • Sinus infection


The key takeaway is if you have a sore throat and possible symptoms of strep throat, err on the side of caution and take a strep test. With Checkable's new app and at-home strep throat tests, you can do it from home and get treated fast, avoiding any hassles.