Definition of Rheumatic Fever: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is it? Rheumatic fever is a serious illness that can begin a week after the sore throat (a group A streptococcal infection).

The first episode of this fever can also cause permanent damage to the valves of the heart; This is called rheumatic heart disease .

Causes of Rheumatic Fever

It is caused by the body’s reaction to a bacterial infection of the throat due to Streptococcus A . Some people are more likely to have this reaction than others, depending on where they live. Between 15% and 25% of sore throats are caused by Streptococcus A, which are treated successfully with antibiotics.

The main symptoms

Symptoms of rheumatic fever include joint pain or swelling (knees, elbows, ankles and wrists), a rash, fever, stomach pain and / or sudden movements. If the heart valves have been damaged and the child has rheumatic heart disease, they may also experience shortness of breath and fatigue.

Will these symptoms disappear?

Most symptoms disappear over time, but damage to the heart valves can be permanent if the child has rheumatic heart disease. In that case you will need special care at the time of visiting the dentist, and you may need surgery to repair the damaged valve.

What are the groups of people most at risk?

Children in the Pacific and young people in particular who are between the ages of 5 and 20 are at greater risk. In addition to poor housing conditions and overcrowding, they increase the risk of rheumatic fever .

Can it be transmitted from person to person?

You can not get rheumatic fever from someone else, but the throat infection from “strep” can be passed to others by sharing saliva, sneezing or coughing.

How is this condition treated?

The symptoms of rheumatic fever can be managed, but there is no treatment for the disease itself. Typically, a ten-day course of penicillin is given to eradicate the causative “Streptococcus A”. If the heart is damaged, the patient may need to rest and reduce physical activity for some time. The person will also require monthly injections of penicillin for at least ten years, in order to reduce the risk of another streptococcal infection .

How can it be prevented?

The rheumatic fever can be prevented at the time your child from developing sore throat, taking him to the doctor or clinic to be checked.

  • Ask the health professional to perform a throat sample.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure the child takes the full course of the medicine.