Real Talk on Strep Throat (#3’s Story).

Call me superstitions if you must, but I don’t really like to talk (or blog) about the outcome of things before they actually come out.

I feel like I might jinx things or something.

But, now that we’ve gotten the pretty much all the way official word from the doc on #3’s condition and his probable prognosis, I feel comfortable sharing with all of you just what happened.

How we went from this spit-ball-of-fire-super-human…

bday boy 12

To this, literally barely-hanging-on-for-dear-life lump of man child you see here…


One thing is to blame: strep throat.

The seemingly innocuous disease that many will suffer through in childhood (sometimes multiple times), tried to kill my baby.

Like, for real.

Thanks to a complication of strep throat known on WebMD in the medical community as Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, my son was thiiiiiiis close to experiencing kidney failure and continues to suffer acute renal disease.

This is for all of you mamas like me who didn’t even know this was possible…

Real Talk on Strep Throat (and How It Gave My Kid Kidney Failure)

strep throat in kids

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils.  It is usually treated with antibiotics.

So, what?  You didn’t get your son on antibiotics in time?

#3 started his antibiotics treatment mere hours after he expressed to me that his throat was hurting.  His throat pain was so severe, and his neck was SO swollen that he couldn’t even move his head without bursting into tears.  Initially I thought he had meningitis and rushed him into the doctor expecting the worst.  But, his rapid strep test came back positive within seconds, and the doctor put him on a course of antibiotics which he advised me I should double dose him with that night.  Despite all of this he got post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

What exactly is Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis?

According to MedlinePlus, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis is a disorder of the kidneys that occurs after infection with certain strains of Streptococcus bacteria.  The strep bacterial infection causes the tiny blood vessels in the filtering units of the kidneys (glomeruli) to become inflamed. This makes the kidneys less able to filter the urine.  There is no specific treatment for post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms.   Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis usually goes away by itself after several weeks to months.

For us, I noted after his fourth day on antibiotics that he wasn’t getting better.  He wasn’t really eating.  He wasn’t able to move his throat.  His fever persisted.  Sometimes, I would look over at him playing on the floor and he’d have tears streaming down his face.  He couldn’t tell me why.  He never cries really so I knew something was off.

Then, on the fifth day, he got hives all over his face.  His fever spiked a bit.  He started to barf.  I called the doctor and they said to give him a couple more days on the antibiotic before we took him in.

It was Thursday.

He stopped eating.  He continued to barf periodically straight through Sunday.

Monday, he sorta seemed better (no barfing, but quiet and not crying) so I foolishly took him to school (I really just wanted him to be better I think; it had been 2 weeks).  His teacher called me after an hour and said he was lying on the floor in the reading room and that I should come get him.

He was crying when I got there.

We called the doctor who said to bring him over for a look in the morning.  And then he went home and slept for hours.  Like 18.

The next morning his entire face was swollen.  He couldn’t stay awake at the doctor.  His urine looked like McDonald’s Sweet Tea and there was only a tiny bit of it.

The nurse practitioner called the doctor.  The doctor sent us immediately to the lab.  They knew he was experience acute renal disease; they were afraid his kidneys were failing.

He had terribly painful leg cramps. He still wasn’t eating.  Or peeing.  Or talking, or laughing, or even staying awake for more than an episode of Austin & Ally (man I fell in love with that show while he was sick).

The following morning he had us back in his office by 9am to tell us that he was afflicted with post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.  As a result, he was anemic, he had high blood pressure, and he’d gained 3lbs in 3 days (that’s kind of a big deal when you weigh less than 50).

After consulting with the pediatric nephrologist at Children’s Hospital in DC, they put him on Lasix (a diuretic) and began to follow his blood pressure and weight daily.  We were told to limit all physical activity (not the he was moving from the sofa anyway), put him on a sodium restricted diet, and watch him closely for urine output and increased swelling.

After witnessing him leaping off of the exam table to the floor, ninja style, the doctor declared Saturday would be his final daily appointment.

He should be able to come off of the medication and return to normal activity this week, provided all checks out with the lab.

Is he better now?  Like, for good?

After beginning to wean him off of his medication at the beginning of the week and reading his latest lab results, his doctors have decided to put him back on the medication through the end of the week at least.  While his lab work showed improvement, things are not progressing quite as we’d hoped.  We will consult with the pediatric nephrologist again and reevaluate our next steps on Friday when he goes in for his next appointment.

All in all, once we get past these first few weeks, they expect his kidneys will continue to recover over the course of the next few months to a year.  He will continue to be monitored (lab work mostly) to ensure that everything goes straight back to awesome.

Can this happen to anyone?  Should I freak every time my child is diagnosed with strep?

Yep, we’re not special, it can happen to anyone. It just usually doesn’t.  This is a very rare occurrence in industrialized nations where medical care is readily available. Clearly that doesn’t mean no one gets it, it’s just unlikely. In 30 years of practicing pediatrics, our doctor had only seen one case of this disease in a child.  For sure though, if your child gets strep and doesn’t start to exhibit signs of improvement after a couple of days, insist your doctor takes another look at him.  You can’t really prevent this disease, but you can be familiar with the symptoms to help your medical practitioner diagnose it quickly so as to prevent your child suffering the tumultuous consequences #3 did.  Our doctor did a great job catching this and we’re so grateful that he was able to diagnose him quickly and move forward with treatment.


  1. says

    Thank you for sharing your story and I’m glad that your son has recovered! I’ve never heard of this condition before and I must say, it terrifies me. It’s good to be informed though!

  2. Michelle says

    Wow, just wow! So glad you insisted on getting him seen and following your instinct. That’s the best thing a mom can do! Will be praying for his continued recovery and to more ninja kicks!

  3. says

    Wow. I’ve never heard of this complication. And I’ve had strep throat a lot. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. says

    Oh gosh, girl. I knew he was sick but man, that is HORRIBLE! I am glad they were able to figure out what it was pretty quick and I pray that he gets ALL better soon. I mean, we NEED that awesomeness in our lives!! xoxo

  5. says

    I’m so sorry this happened, and I’m so glad the doctor figured out what was going on. Big hugs to you momma. You deserve them.

  6. says

    I am so shocked.

    I can’t believe it.

    Life can change just like that.

    My prayers that he will continue to improve, and permanently.


    (you did a wonderful job with this post. THANK YOU)

  7. says

    So sorry you had to go through this – it sounds SO scary. I would have just freaked. Glad that a happy ending is hopefully in sight.

  8. says

    Oh my goodness! I have never heard of this before. I am so sorry that you and #3 had to go through this. I am so glad that they figured it out. I wanted to comment on all of this as it was happening but I was dealing with my daughter in the hospital with a horrible stomach virus and then I got the flu. Just wanted you to know that I have been thinking about you all.

  9. Jdt1583 says

    Wow-how awful for you both! My brother and I spent our childhood at the Dr it seems but I have never heard of this!! Thank you for posting– sending happy healthy thoughts your way!!

  10. says

    I’ve been sitting here a good half hour with this window open trying to compose words to…express…I just…I’m lost. I can’t even begin to imagine how badly he felt and how you must have felt looking at him be so miserable. Like most of the commenters, I’ve never even heard of this (and yes, it starts me on a whole slide down to crazy town about the sheer volume of potential things that can befall our children BUT I’MA SHUT THAT DOOR.) I’m glad it was figured out, glad he’s on the mend, and totally giving you the UM NO side eye on Austin and Ally (Seriously. I really don’t like that show.)

  11. says

    Oh gosh, I’m so sorry your little guy and your family had to go through this. So very glad he’s getting better. Thank you for taking the brave step of sharing your experience.

  12. says

    Oh that must have been so scary!! Seriously how awful. So glad he is okay now and that the doctor did get it right and get him the help he needed.

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Sophia says

    Oh my Lord I’m reading this crying I feel so sad you had to go through this. That picture as soon as I looked at it I just sobbed that picture is just so upsetting as a parent and I feel horrible looking at the picture I can only imagine what you feel. I am going to pray for him every day I hope #3 is back to awesome very soon. What a brave little boy and you’re such an amazing mother

  14. says

    I am so glad to hear that things are looking up. I have been waiting for an update :-) I will continue to pray for more jumping ninja kicks.

  15. says

    I’ve never heard of this before! How terrible for you and your son. I’m so glad he is on the mend. Poor little guy. Thanks for sharing your story and alerting the rest of us to this serious possible complication from Strep. Both my kids had strep this winter.

  16. says

    Yikes so, so scary! I’m so glad he is on the mend. Thanks for sharing. I have never heard of this but for sure will keep it in the back of my mind for later freaking out when either of my children get strep. I’m so glad you were able to get the medical care he needed when you did. Those ped nephrologists at Children’s know their stuff!

  17. says

    When my oldest was 13 he kept strep for 3 months straight. As in one day after medications ended his throat was swollen and we were back at the doctors. All of that had an effect on his kidneys as well. He begin passing too much protein in his urine. He spent a few months getting that worked out after they did a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Doctors said it was a side effect from the continual strep and massive antibiotics that his kidneys just got tired and quit flushing out right.

  18. says

    YES – I knew it! This is exactly what Colin had. Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. It is so scary! What was crazy with us was that we had ZERO IDEA that Colin had even had strep throat … he never once even mentioned his throat being sore. So weird.

    I’m so very glad #3 feels better! Here’s to uninhibited ninja kicks!


  1. […] As many of you know, #3 suffered acute renal failure earlier this year following a bout with strep throat.  He was super sick, and we were crazy scared, and weeks later, he’s still not 100% better.  You can read more about his ordeal here: Strep Throat & Kidney Failure. […]