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Rheumatic Fever Management

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Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria (such as strep throat or scarlet fever).

Rheumatic fever can be detrimental when not managed properly.

When you are, or someone you know is suffering with Rheumatic Fever, then this App is for you.

Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic fever is a disease that can occur following an infection caused by the Group A streptococcus bacteria. This disease if not treated, an infection such as strep throat may lead to a delayed complication featuring widespread inflammation to other parts of the body, particularly the joints, heart, skin and brain.

Commonly, it is spreading worldwide being responsible for many cases of damaged heart valves. However, it is not common in the United States, and typically takes place in isolated outbreaks. Thus, it was during 1980, when it has the latest outbreak. Rheumatic fever mainly affects children ages 5-15, and occurs at approximately 14-28 days after strep throat or scarlet fever.

Symptoms of Rheumatic fever:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • Heart (cardiac) problems, which may not have symptoms, or may result in shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Joint pains, arthritis (mainly in the knees, elbows, ankles, and wrists)
  • Joint swelling; redness or warmth
  • Skin nodules
  • Skin rash (erythema marginatum)

*skin eruption on the trunk and upper part of the arms or legs

*eruptions that look ring-shaped or snake-like

  • Syndenham chorea (emotional instability, muscle weakness and quick, uncoordinated jerky movements that mainly affect the face, feet, and hands)

There are several major and minor criteria being developed to help regulate rheumatic fever diagnosis. Meeting these criteria and evident recent streptococcal infection, helps confirm having rheumatic fever. Such major criteria for diagnosis include arthritis in several large joints (polyarthritis), heart inflammation (carditis), nodules under the skin (subcutaneous skin nodules), rapid, jerky movements (chorea), and skin rash (erythema marginatum). Minor criteria include fever, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), joint pain and abnormal EKG.

More likely, you are diagnosed with rheumatic fever if you meet two major criteria, or one major and two minor criteria, and having signs that you’ve had a previous strep infection.

Examinations and test for Rheumatic Fever include carefully checking your heart sounds, skin and joints. Such tests include: Blood test for recurrent strep infection, complete blood count, electrocardiogram, and sedimentation rate.

Having been diagnosed with rheumatic fever, you will be treated with antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or corticosteroids reduce inflammation to help manage acute rheumatic fever. Moreover, taking low doses of antibiotics (such as penicillin, sulfadiazine, or erythromycin) over the long term to prevent strep throat from returning.

Recurring of rheumatic fever, may be recommended by doctors to take low-dose antibiotics continually, especially during the first 3-5 years after the first episode of the disease. Heart complications may be severe, particularly if the valves are involved. This early prognosis is very helpful in order to avoid possible complications such as arrhythmias, damage to heart valves (in particular, mitral stenosis and aortic stenosis), endocarditis, heart failure, pericarditis and Sydenham chorea.

Ideally, call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of rheumatic fever. Because several conditions have similar symptoms, you will need careful medical evaluation.

The most important way to prevent rheumatic fever is by getting quick treatment for strep throat and scarlet fever.

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