Classes and Strep Throat.

Most of my classes are amusing all the while being academically interesting. My anatomy prof has joked that he is paid to teach AND entertain us... my TCM prof has 'story time' at least once a lecture, which is when he tells us about his hilarious parenting experiences... my physiology prof likes deviate from the lecture material in order to rant about the flaws in evidence-based medicine (hear, hear!)... my philosophy prof has interrupted class to play opera music so the class could experience some 'musical healing'.

It's crazy to think that in only one week's time I will be done with their classes... and I will be 1/8 a doctor!

In my immunology class, I learned why anti-biotics are prescribed for strep throat infections. Proteins located on heart valves looks very similar to the streptococcal (strep) bacteria. The body's antibodies (specifically IgM isotopes) that are activated by the strep infection may accidentally start recognizing these heart valve proteins in addition to the strep infection. Therefore, when the adaptive immune system kicks-in, the body may elicit an immune response against its own heart! The anti-biotics that often prescribed for strep throat are not necessarily given to help fight off the infection, but are given to keep the body from harming itself.

A couple of things to better understand this concept: 1) anti-biotics are given if the strep throat symptoms are less than 5 days old (because after 5 days the adaptive immune system will have been activated and it will be too late). 2) not all anti-biotics are given to kill off an infection. There are anti-biotics specifically designed to stop your own immune system instead (like in the strep throat infection). 3) not everyone has antibodies that recognize the heart protein (but anti-biotics are given just in case). 4) your own immune system won't kill you in this situation, but will damage the heart's tissue.


  1. 1/8 a doctor - the time does zip by....but we still miss you :(


  2. Would the heart valve tissue damage here be irreversible??

    Hopefully not, but the human body does handle the heart strangely. Viz: heart attacks being possible AT ALL while huge amounts of oxygenated blood rush by. ...retarded!


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