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Risks of Strep Overestimated


As physicians we are taught that strep throat can lead to secondary infections. Untreated — or undertreated — strep throat can cause rheumatic fever and permanent heart damage. Acute otitis media (ear infection), sinusitis, pneumonia, meningitis, kidney failure and arthritis can also result.   For this reason, patients with strep are  automatically given an anti-biotic.

New research is now showing that we may be overestimating the risks of strep throat  and contributing to antibiotic overuse. Michael Radetsky, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist has noted that no current, nor accurate estimates for calculating the risk of acute rheumatic fever exist.   We do know that in 1961 there were  2 cases of rheumatic fever among  608 cases of untreated strep.    Since then  investigators  believe rheumatic fever has declined to a risk of 1 in 15,000 cases of untreated strep throat.    Of those cases of rheumatic fever 10% would have complications and  1% would die.   Dr. Radetsky commented that, “the justification for doing what we do is becoming slimmer and slimmer, so that the continued pursuit of group A streptococcal pharyngitis is really driven by an outdated notion of risk, and a self-perpetuated habit.”

Fortunately with pharyngitis, whether viral or strep, homeopathic and nutriceutical treatment can assist our own immune system to eliminate the infection.

Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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