What is rheumatic fever?
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory and immune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissue. It develops when conditions caused by a bacterial infection streptococcal are not treated, such as strep throat and scarlet fever.
Rheumatic fever is suffered mainly by children. It affects the heart, joints, skin, blood vessels and brain.
Rheumatic fever can cause rheumatic heart disease. This is when a heart valve has been damaged by the fever. This may require a surgical operation to repair or replace the valve that has been damaged.
If a course of antibiotics is not taken correctly, rheumatic fever can reoccur several years later after the first incidence of the condition.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever
The symptoms of rheumatic fever can vary regarding visibility and severity. They also appear two to four weeks after a strep throat infection.
- Joint pain and tenderness during movement (most often in the knees, ankles, elbows and wrists)
- Joints that are hot to the touch or swollen
- Small and painless lumps under the skin
- Chest pain (see here for chest pain in children)
- Heart murmur (see here for heart murmur in children)
- A skin rash that can be flat or slightly raised, painless and with irregular edges
- Spasms and uncontrollable body movements
- Strange and unusual behaviour, such as crying or laughing in an inappropriate way
Medical tests for rheumatic fever
A diagnosis of rheumatic fever can be made by examining the patient’s medical history or from various tests:
What are the causes of rheumatic fever?
Group a streptococcus infections in the throat are the most common cause of rheumatic fever. The type of streptococcal bacteria and a family background of the condition can increase the likelihood of developing it. Group A streptococcus infections on the skin or in other parts of the body rarely lead to rheumatic fever.
Can it be prevented?
The only way to prevent this disease is to perform adequate and immediate treatment for strep throat or scarlet fever. The complete cycle of medications prescribed by a specialist for these conditions must be taken and finished to ensure they are treated.
Treatments for rheumatic fever
Treatment is aimed at eliminating group A streptococcal bacteria from the patient, relieving symptoms and preventing the recurrence of the condition.
Among the recommended treatments are antibiotics, anti-inflammatory treatment and anticonvulsant medications.
What specialist treats it?
Rheumatic fever is treated by rheumatologists.11-13-2012 04-19-2023