Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Friday, May 18, 2007

Streptococcus pyogenes

Doesn't look like much, does it? And yet it knocked me and my husband flat for the entire week until we dragged ourselves to the doctor and each obtained a course of antibiotics. Though in most cases your own immune system will take care of our good friend Streptococcus, in a small but frightening number of cases this vicious little microbe can wreak havoc on your health.

Sometimes it causes rheumatic fever, which can permanently and gravely damage your heart valves. Though rare, untreated strep can cause deep tissues to become necrotic, or can cause lung injury or even kidney failure. I'm no antibiotic abuser -- I'm very aware of the social problem presented by profligate use of these drugs. But the risks of leaving strep untreated seem like a kind of inch-wide-mile-deep issue. The risk of these complications isn't overwhelming, but the consequences are. "We aren't treating the sore throat," remarked my nurse. "We're treating to prevent some fairly serious potential complications."

Well that, and I felt better within hours of taking my first dose. This isn't the sickest I've ever been -- I reserve that for our bout with influenza in which my extremely sturdy husband ended up in the ER -- but it runs a very close second.

We're taking it easy. We're planning to leave for Montana tomorrow instead of today.


kris said...

That does not sound like fun. Glad you're feeling better. Can't wait to hear about Montana when you get back - have a fun time!

Trailhead said...

Thanks! And you're right -- not fun at all.