Rheumatic fever is basically an inflammatory disease resulting from Group A streptococcal infection. Its similarities with rheumatism (which encompasses medical problems impacting the tissues and joints) gave it its name. Rheumatic fever occurs two to three weeks after infection by streptococcal infections like strep throat or scarlet fever. Those more likely to become affected by rheumatic fever are children within the age range of 5 and 15. Many parts of the body could be affected by the disease for instance the brain, joint or skin or the heart. People aged 25 to 35 are most likely affected by recurring incidents of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is not essentially an infection but results from a strep infection that was allowed to develop.
The symptoms of rheumatic fever
Between the first and the fifth week, the symptoms of rheumatic fever generally appear subsequent to the infection of the streptococcus bacteria. The symptoms may be fever, chest pain, pain in the abdomen, tender, swollen joints possibly the ankles, wrists or elbows. Fluttering or rapid heartbeat is another symptom of rheumatic fever. There may be weird or unusual behavior such as unwarranted crying or laughing. Sore throat with the absence of runny nose which are typical cold symptoms is another symptom that may be encountered. Fatigue and weakness, shortness of breath, skin rashes, having problems swallowing, bloody discharges from the nose, nodules that form under the skin are all other symptoms of rheumatic fever.
Method of diagnosing rheumatic fever
In an attempt to diagnose whether or not a person has rheumatic fever, doctors do a throat culture to check if a patient has a strep infection. In testing for strep throat the doctor will actually pass a cotton swab across the back of the throat. Whatever bacteria picked up on the swab will be put on what is referred to as a culture and this allows the bacteria to grow so that it may be assessed.
The doctor will then listen to the heart of the patient with a stethoscope. The doctor will additionally look for nodules on the joints. Blood tests, x-rays on the chest or an ECG or EKG may be required for a precise diagnosis.
Treating Rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever has no specific cure however medication is generally available to ease the pain brought on by some symptoms. Recurring episodes of the streptococcal infection may be kept away by prescribing penicillin to the person with the disease. For treating the fever symptom, aspirins are usually taken. Corticosteroids may be given to alleviate the swelling and pain in the joints. The use of small amounts of antibiotics like erythromycin or sulfadiazine or penicillin over a sustained period can help in the prevention of a reoccurrence of strep throat. Some patients will be recommended to bed rest so as to grant the body some time to recover. Fluid intake should be increased and persons with the disease should have minimum six to eight glasses of water daily.