Untreated Strep Throat: Can Strep Throat Go Away On Its Own?

Neha Mittal   by Neha Mittal, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on October 2, 2019,

untreated strep throat

Can strep throat go away on its own if left untreated?

Strep throat is a pediatric throat infection which is caused due Streptococcus species bacteria. Strep throat is a very common infection which causes sore throat in children. This infection usually takes around 3 to 7 days to go away on its own with or without any specific treatment.

In most cases, strep goes away on its own. Antibiotics only help in minimizing the severity of the infection. Although, the infection can go away itself, it is advisable to consult a doctor to know the basic reason behind the infection and get relief of the symptoms.

What happens if strep throat is untreated? Is strep throat serious

Generally, strep throat occurs very mildly in children and goes by itself in a week. But sometimes, due to certain environmental factors, the infection can become worse.

Untreated strep throat results in various complications in children. These complications can be mild or severe. Although, the complications which occur due to untreated strep infection are rarely experienced, it may be possible that the complication may occur because of an infection or body’s immune response to the strep infection.

More: Strep Throat Medicine What Antibiotics Treat Strep Throat

More: Strep Throat Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Complications due to untreated strep throat

Some complications that occur due to an untreated strep throat are as follows:


Untreated strep throat results in abscess, a condition in which an abscess is formed near the tonsils and behind the throat. This condition results in symptoms such as severe pain in neck and throat, respiratory problems and difficulty in swallowing. In case the abscess becomes severe, surgery may be required to remove the abscess.

Rheumatic fever

Acute rheumatic fever is another serious complication that may occur due to untreated strep. Scientists say that if the strep throat is left untreated for a long time, bacteria may remain in the tonsils and trigger the body’s immune system to attack them. In some cases, this constant immune response starts attacking other body organs such as body joints, heart valves, etc. If the condition becomes more severe then it may result in heart failure.

Kidney problems

In some cases, untreated strep severely affects kidneys causing kidney inflammation. This condition is known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis or PSGN.

Children with strep throat who are younger than 7 years are at a greater risk of suffering from PSGN than other children or adults.

Scarlet fever

If the strep throat is not treated in time, it may also result in scarlet fever. Scarlet fever mainly occurs in young children who experience a painful sore throat with red rashes on chest or the abdomen that feels like sandpaper.

Children are unable to eat and swallow properly and usually complain of severe pain. Most common symptoms of scarlet fever in case of the untreated strep infection are as follows:

  • Strawberry-red colored tongue
  • Dark red colored skin fold
  • Small red colored rashes, etc.


Tonsillitis is the most common complication of untreated strep throat. Tonsils are located on the top of throat and helps in preventing infection by filtering out the microorganisms form the body. Sometimes, these tonsils fail to perform their work properly and thus become swollen and inflamed. This condition results in tonsillitis. Major symptoms of tonsillitis in case of untreated strep throat infection are as follows:

  • Reddened and swollen tonsils along with some white spots
  • Jaw and throat tenderness
  • Pain and fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Sinusitis or sinus infection

Sinusitis is another complication of an untreated strep throat. It occurs when a person’s sinus becomes blocked and proper drainage is prevented. In such cases, the bacteria grow and spread in the sinuses resulting in an infection.

Various symptoms of sinusitis are as follows:

  • Headaches
  • Thick yellow colored discharge from nose
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip

These are a few of the complications which may occur if the strep throat is left untreated. Therefore, timely and proper treatment of strep throat infection is necessary for preventing any such complications.

Can you die from untreated strep throat?

Strep throat is a very common infection. Most people with strep throat infection experiences symptoms such as fever, sore throat, swollen tonsils, etc. Sometimes, the patient might also suffer from sinus problems but an antibiotic can easily kill the bacteria and prevent diseases.

Yes, a person can die from untreated strep throat, though, it is very uncommon. Each year, millions of people suffer from strep throat infection but only 10 to 14 % cases experiences death. The chances of a person dying from strep throat are very rare. It may only occur if the infection spreads in the blood stream and affects various organs. Then only a person can die from the infection. 

Neha Mittal

Neha Mittal completed graduation in Biotechnology from Graphics Era University, Dehradun and Masters in Biotechnology from Amity University, Noida. In the past, she worked with Sharon Biomedicine Ltd., DUKES Products Ltd., and Forest Research Institute, Dehradun as researcher in biotechnology.


Neha loves singing and dancing in leisure time. She also enjoys traveling and maintains a collection of great novels.

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