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December 20,  2001

American Kidney Fund Warns Americans Not to Ignore Sore Throats


 (SafetyAlerts) - With families gathering for the holidays, they may be sharing more than gifts and meals; they may be sharing strep. The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is warning Americans not to ignore a sore throat, because the bacteria that cause strep throat (streptococcus) can cause kidney damage. Strep throat is quite contagious and is most common in winter or early spring. Anyone can get strep throat, but it is most common among school-aged children.

AKF Chairman of Medical Affairs, Paul W. Crawford, MD, said, "For the most part, ten days of antibiotic treatment combined with rest will take care of strep throat. It is important to remember that viruses, not strep, cause most sore throats, but you must be sure of the diagnosis. By doing a throat culture or rapid strep test, your doctor can tell if strep is present."

Strep is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing, or by direct contact. Hand washing and avoiding shared eating utensils or beverage containers can stem the spread of strep.

People who are infected with strep can spread the disease to others until twenty-four hours after beginning antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics must be taken for a full ten days to ensure the infection is completely gone, even though the patient may feel better after two or three days.

"When streptococcus attacks the kidneys, it inflames the tiny filtering units causing a condition called glomerulonephritis," explained Dr. Crawford. "Children with this complication will usually recover, but in adults, it can lead to permanent kidney failure for which the only treatments are kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation. Fortunately, it does not happen often," Dr. Crawford noted.

Kidney disease may develop from one to six weeks after the sore throat disappears. Signs of kidney disease include: Swelling of parts of the body; lower back pain; burning or abnormal sensation during urination; bloody or coffee-colored urine; changes in urination patterns, such as an increase in frequency; puffiness around the eyes (especially in children); and, a listless or tired feeling.

Dr. Crawford concluded, "Most sore throats are minor and go away after a few days. A strep infection is different. It's a serious matter and it must be treated accordingly in order to prevent a dangerous complication like kidney disease."

Source: PRNewswire.

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