Rheumatic fever is a life threatening health condition that can damage the joints, heart, blood vessels and even the brain. Children between 5 and 15 years of age, who suffer from recurrent strep throat infections, are susceptible to this disease.
Incidence of rheumatic fever could be prevented by spreading awareness about the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment of strep throat infections.
Nowadays, rheumatic fever is rare in the developed parts of the world. Unfortunately, inaccessibility to the health care system makes children living in the impoverished regions vulnerable to this condition. The risk of developing rheumatic fever is highest in winter and in early spring.
Rheumatic fever causes
Rheumatic fever is a delayed autoimmune response to the streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat infection. When you contract strep throat infection, the immune system of your body produces antibodies to fight and kill the bacteria.
Rheumatic fever develops when these antibodies instead of fighting the bacteria, attack the tissues of the body. It is believed that a weak immune system is responsible for this faulty immune response of the body. These antibodies attack the joints and the heart.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever
The symptoms of rheumatic fever develop between one and five weeks after the child contracts strep throat. The primary symptoms of rheumatic fever are fever accompanied by joint inflammation. The knees and ankles are usually affected by this disease. The joint becomes swollen, tender and red.
Multiple joints might be affected. The pain and inflammation tends to migrate between several joints. Small bumps or nodules would develop underneath the skin. Pink rash would appear on the arms, legs and trunk. The child affected by the disease might experience abdominal pain and fatigue.
Rheumatic fever treatment
Rheumatic fever is a debilitating health disorder. It is one of the chief causes of heart disease. It damages the valves of the heart. It increases the risk of rheumatic heart disease and heart failure. Rheumatic fever can also cause chorea, which is a type of nervous disorder. This temporary illness causes uncontrollable involuntary muscle movements. To treat rheumatic fever, antibiotics for treating bacterial infection, anti-inflammatory medications for healing swollen joints and bed rest is recommended.