A streptococcal infection may lead to other diseases, such as acute rheumatic fever, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that can cause a range of infections. Medical professionals often refer to these infections as “streptococcal infections.”
Streptococcal infections include:
A streptococcal infection can cause several postinfectious diseases. Medical professionals may refer to these diseases as “post-streptococcal disorders.”
This article explains the different types of post-streptococcal disorders. It also discusses their causes, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
Below, we outline the symptoms of different post-streptococcal disorders.
Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS)
Symptoms of PANDAS include:
- OCD symptoms
- a tic disorder
- dramatic ups and downs in the severity of OCD and tics
- neurological abnormalities, such as physical hyperactivity or involuntary jerky movements
- a very abrupt onset or worsening of symptoms
Acute rheumatic fever
Acute rheumatic fever is a condition that can affect the:
Acute rheumatic fever is an inflammatory condition. This means it occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body.
When this happens, it causes inflammation. This inflammation is what causes the symptoms of acute rheumatic fever.
Common symptoms of rheumatic fever include:
- arthritis, most commonly in the:
- congestive heart failure symptoms, including:
- jerky, involuntary body movements
In rare cases, a person can develop nodules, which are painless lumps, near their joints. Another rare symptom is the development of a ring-like rash.
If left untreated, acute rheumatic fever can lead to rheumatic heart disease.
Rheumatic heart disease can be serious. It weakens the valves between the chambers of the heart.
Severe rheumatic heart disease may require heart surgery. The disease may be life threatening.
Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN)
PSGN is a rare kidney disease that can develop after a streptococcal infection. It is more common in children than in adults.
PSGN is also an inflammatory disease. It causes a rapid deterioration of kidney function due to an inflammatory response after a streptococcal infection.
Common symptoms of PSGN can include:
- dark, reddish-brown urine
- in the face
- around the eyes
- in the hands and feet
- a decreased need to urinate
- urinating for a decreased amount of time
In some cases, a person with PSGN may have no symptoms or symptoms that are so mild they do not seek medical help.
Streptococcal infections can cause a person to develop a post-streptococcal disorder.
The molecules cause them to appear almost identical to molecules found on a person’s:
- brain tissues
Medical professionals refer to this ability to hide as “molecular mimicry.” It prevents a person’s immune system from immediately detecting the bacteria.
Eventually, a person’s immune system recognizes the molecules of the streptococcal bacteria as foreign to the body. It then produces antibodies to attack the bacteria via an immune response.
However, a person’s immune system may also mistakenly attack the body’s own molecules that the bacteria mimicked. When the body mistakenly attacks its own cells, this causes inflammation. In turn, a person develops various types of post-streptococcal disorders.
Risk factors for PANDAS
Several factors can
- having repeated streptococcal infections
- a family history of autoimmune disease
- a family history of rheumatic fever
PANDAS also most commonly affects males and children 3–12 years old.
Risk factors for acute rheumatic fever
Risk factors for acute rheumatic fever include:
- Age: Rheumatic fever is
most commonin children 5–15 years old. It is very rare in children younger than 3 years old and adults.
- Group settings: Crowded conditions can increase a person’s risk of developing a streptococcal infection. This can then increase their chances of developing acute rheumatic fever. Crowded settings that may increase a person’s risk include:
- busy schools
- busy day care centers
- military training facilities
- overcrowded living spaces
- Lack of access to primary healthcare: People who lack access to primary healthcare may have an
increased riskof developing acute rheumatic fever.
- Drinking sugary beverages: People who regularly consume sugar-sweetened beverages have a
higher riskof developing acute rheumatic fever.
Causes and risk factors for PSGN
Risk factors for PSGN include:
- age, as PSGN is
more commonin children than in adults
- poor hygiene
- a family history of PSGN
Diagnosis varies depending on the post-streptococcal disorder.
Instead, doctors use the following diagnostic criteria to diagnose PANDAS:
- the presence of:
- a tic disorder
- or both of the above
- symptoms that develop between the ages of 3 years and puberty
- dramatic ups and downs in the severity of OCD and tics
- association with a streptococcal infection
- association with neurological abnormalities, such as physical hyperactivity or involuntary jerky movements
- the very abrupt onset or worsening of symptoms
If a child has symptoms of PANDAS for over a week, a doctor may order a blood test to see whether the child had a preceding streptococcal infection.
Diagnosing acute rheumatic fever
Additionally, a doctor wants to determine whether a person has had a streptococcal infection. They may use a throat swab or a blood test to detect a previous infection.
A doctor may also use one of the following tests to analyze how well a person’s heart is working:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG is a test that can determine the heart’s rhythm and measure its electrical activity.
- Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound test that uses high frequency sound waves to make pictures of the heart.
Doctors diagnose PSGN by reviewing a person’s medical history and ordering certain lab tests.
Doctors look to see whether a person has recently had a streptococcal infection since it causes PSGN to develop.
A doctor may also use a blood test to see whether they can determine how well a person’s kidneys are functioning.
If a person’s streptococcal infection is still present, a medical professional
Treatments for the different post-streptococcal disorders vary.
A child may also benefit from treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In some cases, a person may receive both CBT and SSRIs.
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment may also help. IVIG can help treat PANDAS in children who have severe symptoms.
Possible side effects of IVIG include:
Treating acute rheumatic fever
Doctors may treat acute rheumatic fever with:
- long-term antibiotic treatment to prevent streptococcal infection recurrence
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain
- corticosteroids to treat severe inflammation
A doctor may also prescribe other medications to reduce severe involuntary movements.
Treatment for PSGN often aims to manage symptoms.
A doctor may also prescribe certain medications to help manage high blood pressure associated with PSGN.
If a person has symptoms of post-streptococcal disorder following a streptococcal infection, they should receive medical attention.
An accurate diagnosis can help a doctor recommend appropriate treatment to help prevent further complications.
A post-streptococcal disorder is a disease that occurs due to a previous streptococcal infection.
These diseases include acute rheumatic fever, PANDAS, and PSGN.
In some cases, the immune system attacks the body’s own cells mimicked by streptococcal bacteria, causing post-streptococcal disorder.