Dangers of Untreated Strep and Natural Remedies with Antimicrobial Properties
Strep throat isn’t fun and it feels like swallowing shards of broken glass, but who knew it could be so dangerous? While there are different strains of streptococcus, Strep A causes about 15% of cases of sore throat. As a child I used to get strep throat with severe pain and swelling of my tonsils followed by middle ear infections about twice a year until I was 21 and had a tonsillectomy. It was the best decision I ever made.
Left untreated strep can lead to serious health issues such as erythema nodosum, kidney damage, rheumatic fever, ear infections which can cause hearing loss, meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia, abscess of the tonsils, necrotizing fasciitis, and septicemia or toxic shock syndrome with multiple organ failure, amputations, and even death.
Recently in the news, there were several cases of a particularly aggressive form of strep which lead to rare complications and subsequent amputations.
Last Christmas, Kevin Breen, a 44 year old Grand Rapids man was tested for strep after he developed a sore throat and his son was diagnosed with strep. Breen tested negative. A few days later he began having stomach pain and sought medical advice. Doctors did an exploratory surgery and found his abdomen was full of infection. Doctors believe he had a false negative test for strep throat which somehow migrated to his abdomen and led to a massive infection, septicemia (blood poisoning) and caused shock and organ failure. As the blood was shunted to vital organs to maintain blood pressure and away from his extremities, the tissues in his hands and feet began to die. Eventually doctors had to perform partial amputations of his hands and feet.
In early March 2017, a 6 year old Ohio kindergartener and dancer named Tessa Puma came down with strep throat and then flu. The strep though treated led to an infection and swelling in her leg which required doctors to amputate in order to save her life.
Also in March, Shelby Smith, a 27 year old Tennessee woman contracted strep throat. The infection traveled to her brain causing convulsions. She was placed in a medically induced coma and treated for septic shock. Medication used to keep her blood pressure up led to decreased circulation in her hands and feet which required amputation of several toes and fingers.
While these cases are relatively rare, about one in a million, they do happen so it’s important to know the signs and seek help if you have any of these symptoms even if you are already being treated with antibiotics:
10 Symptoms of Strep Throat
- High fever – if you have a sudden high fever over 101 degrees
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach pain
- Dizziness (which could indicate low blood pressure)
- Swelling (particularly of arms, legs, hands or feet
- Discoloration of hands or feet
- Pain in extremities or other parts of the body
Thus, what can you do to try to prevent strep and boost the immune system in the first place? Here are some 13 natural remedies you can do at home.
1. Eat real food and avoid processed foods and sugar
2. Stay hydrated – A sore throat hurts so you may not drink enough fluids. Be sure to drink water and for some nutrition bone broth.
3. Sleep – Getting enough rest is extremely important for the immune system.
4. Fucoidan – Fucoidan is a little known supplement has a powerful effect on modulating the immune system. Fucoidan has been compared to the immune building capability of mother’s milk. It is a sulfated polysaccharide derived from brown seaweed. One study showed fucoidan’s ability to prevent antibiotic induced inflammatory damage in bacterial meningitis. There are over 1467 studies on this molecule. Fucoidan is a popular preventative in Japan. Many people drink fucoidan and even swab the inside of their nose as a strong preventative against exposure and contraction of diseases.
5. Vitamins – Even if you eat well, you may want to consider supplementing with vitamins, especially water soluble vitamins lie vitamin C.
6. Colloidal silver – Colloidal silver has gained popularity as a preventative supplement. It has uses in some medical supplies such as dressings to prevent infection. Colloidal silver nanoparticles are being studied for their potential use in pharmaceuticals. It may be taken internally and some people swear by the use of silver.
7. Coconut oil – I’ve never used coconut oil for a sore throat but I have for a sore tooth and the result was amazing. Coconut oil does have antibacterial properties so it may help with some infections. I would still see a doctor if you suspect strep.
8. Manuka honey – Honey also has antibacterial properties and had long been used in wound care. It can be mixed with other nutrients like ginger, garlic, lemon, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon for a soothing mixture in sore throat.
9. Cayenne pepper – peppers contain capsaisin which can dull pain temporarily. Try mixing ½ teaspoon with a teaspoon of honey and a cup of hot water to make a soothing tea.
10. Warm salt water – If you do succumb to a sore throat, remember what your mother said and gargle with warm salt water. It’s soothing and helps with swelling.
11. 3% hydrogen peroxide – you can also gargle with hydrogen peroxide. Mix a capful (about a teaspoon) in a small drinking cup and gargle then spit.
12. Hand-washing – The most effective defense against disease is still hand-washing and avoiding exposure to infection. Also see Your Hands Are About as Contaminated as a Toilet Bowl.
13. Surgery – while this may seem like a drastic measure, tonsillectomy may be an option you want to consider especially if you have frequent infections. Since my procedure almost 35 years ago, I haven’t had even one sore throat and rarely get sick. The surgery was also the best option for my daughter who had frequent strep infections that led to ear infections and eventually erythema nodosum, a rare complication of strep.