What is it?
Rheumatic fever is the body’s immune system reacting to an untreated infection with bacteria called Group A Streptococcus (GAS). GAS commonly causes throat infection and some skin infections. Rheumatic fever can affect the skin, joints, brain and heart. The skin, joints and brain recover from Rheumatic fever, but the heart can suffer lasting damage called Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
What are the symptoms?
If your or your child have a sore throat along with any of the following symptoms, see your doctor for an evaluation:
- Tender and swollen lymph nodes.
- Red rash.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Thick, bloody discharge from nose.
- Temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or above.
- Tonsils that are red and swollen.
- Tonsils with white patches or pus.
- Small, red spots on the roof of the mouth.
A wide variety of symptoms are associated with rheumatic fever which usually appear two to four weeks after the strep throat infection.Common symptoms of rheumatic fever include:
- Small, painless nodules under the skin.
- Chest pain.
- Rapid fluttering or pounding chest palpitations.
- Bleeding from the nose.
- Stomach pain.
- Painful or sore joints in the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.
- Pain in one joint that moves to another joint.
- Red, hot, swollen joints.
- Shortness of breath.
- A flat, slightly raised, ragged rash.
- Jerky, uncontrollable movements of the hands, feet, and face.
- A decrease in attention span.
- Outbursts of crying or inappropriate laughter.
What to expect?
If you are diagnosed with rheumatic fever, you can consider discussing the following subjects with your doctor:
- Are there any investigations needed to asses and evaluate your condition? If so, are there any preparations needed prior to these tests?
- What are your treatment options? What is best suited for you?
- A healthy diet, quitting smoking and an active lifestyle can help improve overall health and well-being. Which changes can you make in your life style?
- When treatment is successful, what preventive measures can you do to avoid contracting the condition again?
- You can also discuss with your doctor what type of follow-up and long-term care will you need.