Rheumatic fever is a very rare and treatable illness, which is usually caused by other untreated underlying illnesses such as scarlet fever or strep-throat. Symptoms of rheumatic fever can include painful, tender and inflamed joints, a high fever, and inflammation of the heart and blood vessels. It is necessary to see your doctor or a specialist if you have symptoms of rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic Fever Treatments
There are different rheumatic fever treatments available. Many are used together either at the same time or systematically. Treatment is necessary as the body usually cannot treat itself in this situation.
- Bed rest is the NO.1 necessity in rheumatic fever treatment. The patient must stay calm and rested not only for the medication and natural anti-bodies to do their work but also for the heart to stay calm. Heart failure is a possible side effect with rheumatic fever.
- Treating the infectionthat initially caused the rheumatic fever in order to reduce the chance of rheumatic fever and the spreading of symptoms. This kind of infection is usually caused by streptococcus.
- Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, are given to help with the inflammation of the heart, blood vessels, and especially the joints.
- Steroids, such as prednisone, and other similar agents are sometimes used in order to help the immune system fight the illness.
- Sedation may be used during rheumatic fever treatment if the patient will not remain in bed. This may also be used to soothe severe pain during treatment.
- Penicillin is the usual antibiotic given to patients duringrheumatic fever treatment. Other possible antibiotics given to patients are erythromycin and sulfa drugs, especially if the patient is allergic to penicillin.
- Surgery: Although uncommon, surgery on the heart may be necessary if the illness creates cardiac issues.
- Dietary restrictions: The only restriction that should be included in rheumatic fever treatment is the intake of sodium to lower the risk of further heart complications.
Unfortunately, once you had rheumatic fever, you are likely to get it again and are more prone to streptococcal infections. What's more, you are at increased risk of heart disease, especially if youhad more than one bout with rheumatic fever. Although a very rare illness, rheumatic fever has a high mortality rate. Many patients either do not live through rheumatic fever treatment, or fall victim to cardiac damage leading to congestive heart failure, strokes and endocarditis. Follow up treatment for rheumatic fever can last for years, especially with more incidences, and usually requires multiple bouts of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications.
The best prevention for rheumatic fever is to keep healthy and avoid streptococcus. If a person, especially a child between the ages of 5 and 15, is diagnosed with strep throat, be sure to follow antibiotic prescriptions thoroughly to ensure the strep throat is treated completely. A vaccine would be the best prevention method, but vaccines, still being researched and tested, are not available for now.
Seek Professional Help
With Rheumatic fever you should know when to seek medical help and who to call for help:
Who to Call
Besides your regular health care physician, you may need to see a specialist if you have rheumatic fever. Some specialists you may be required to see are as listed below.
- Rheumatologist – a specialist who understands and works with patients who are suffering from rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cardiologist – to treat inflammation of the heart, if needed.
- Pediatrician – rheumatic fever is generally known as an illness that affects mostly children.
When to Call
Rheumatic fever has many severe potential complications which can be immediate or long-term. All complications are related to the heart including heart murmur, pancarditis, chorea, and rheumatic heart disease. All complications can, in turn, lead to heart failure.
So it's important to see a doctor for rheumatic fever. A doctor should always be seen in cases of sore throat because preventing rheumatic fever starts with prevention or complete elimination of streptococcus infections. Children are more susceptible to both strep-throat and rheumatic fever, so they should see a doctor as soon as possible if suspicious symptoms are noticed.
Maybe It's Not Rheumatic Fever
Other illnesses and medical issues can cause the same symptoms as rheumatic fever and are all actually closely related. These illnesses are:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Lyme disease
- Sickle cell anemia
- Mixed connective-tissue disease
- Different types of arthritis: gonococcal arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and septic arthritis