Rheumatic Fever Symptoms

Rheumatic fever is a condition caused by bacteria. Its symptoms vary from one person to the other. Presented in this article is complete information on causes, symptoms and treatment of rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease caused due to the group A streptococcus bacteria. Inflammation in the heart, the central nervous system and joints is seen when a person suffers from rheumatic fever. It can develop in people of any age groups, however, it is common in children and adults. Sometimes, it is also observed that recurring attacks of rheumatic fever can be seen in people in mid age (from 20-40 years).

Rheumatic Fever Causes
Rheumatic fever mostly occurs when infections caused by the group A streptococcus bacteria are left untreated for a long time. Sore throat (strep throat) is one of the infections caused by this group of bacteria. It is observed that rheumatic fever generally follows a sore throat and scarlet fever. It rarely occurs due to infections in other parts of the body. Specially in case of children and babies, it is very essential to treat strep throat with antibiotics to avoid rheumatic fever. Although this is a common diagnosis, the exact relation between rheumatic fever and sore throat is still unknown. Apart from this, the exact cause of this disease is also not known.

Symptoms of Rheumatic Fever
As mentioned above, there is an inflammation in the heart, joints and the central nervous system when a person suffers from rheumatic fever. Besides these, the following are the symptoms of rheumatic fever in adults as well as children.
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tenderness in joints
  • Nodules below skin
  • Inflammation of the heart
  • Rash on skin
  • Jerky movements of the body
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
Damage to the heart valves and complete heart failure are the severe complications of rheumatic fever. Similar symptoms are observed in case of children. However, Sydenham's chorea is more prominent in children. One can observe the change in handwriting and uncontrollable body movements more significantly in children. Irritability, unexpected crying or laughing are also some of the symptoms of rheumatic fever in children. If one observes sore throat without the actual disease, skin rash, pain while eating and swallowing food, and very high fever in toddlers and children, one should immediately consult the doctor.

Treating Rheumatic Fever
It is not advisable to use any home remedies, if any of the symptoms are observed. It is always better to consult a medical professional as early as possible. Physical examination, blood tests, and in some cases, an electrocardiogram (ECG) is necessary in diagnosing the disease. Although there is no permanent cure for the disease, there are several medications that help in alleviating the symptoms and reducing the spread of bacteria. Antibiotics are very beneficial in eradicating bacteria from the body completely. Penicillin, especially, is highly effective in treating streptococcus bacteria. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory medications are also prescribed to treat the inflammation in various parts of the body. However, more complex treatment methods are used if serious symptoms related to the heart and the central nervous system are observed.

You should remember to try to prevent all bacterial infections, especially sore throat. Also, if one contracts any bacterial infection, he should not ignore it, but, undertake complete treatment. Maintaining hygiene and having fresh food helps in preventing any bacterial infections. As a concluding note, it can only be said that it is very necessary to identify the symptoms at an early age in order to treat it effectively.
By Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: 10/11/2011
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