Rheumatic fever is a serious condition which may affect the joints and several body parts, such as the brain, nervous system and the skin. It is usually the direct consequence of an infection of the group A streptococcus, that causes strep A throat infection. This type of fever is very common in children within the age group five to fifteen. Rheumatic fever can sometimes cause permanent damage to parts of the body. This fever has become one of the leading causes of death due to cardiovascular conditions in the recent years. It is very important to know that proper treatment of strep throat can prevent rheumatic fever. Although not all cases of strep throat and followed by this fever, it is essential to treat it.
Some of the symptoms include -
3. Pain and tenderness in the joints
4. Pain in the chest
5. Lumps around the wrist, hands, knees etc
7. Small bumps under the skin
9. Jerky uncontrollable movements are also found in children
Usually it is the joint pain and fever that are the first symptoms to occur. The joints in the ankles, knees, elbows and wrists are often red, swollen and painful. The intensity of the pain may vary from mild to excruciating. Fortunately, the joint pain is not permanent, and will decrease after treatment. Patients often feel their heart beating fast and some may even experience pain in the chest. Often this symptom may go unnoticed, and the patient can end up with permanent damage to the heart. The severity of the heart disease will vary according to the heart inflammation and how fast it has been treated. In such cases a complete antibiotic treatment of the streptococcal throat infection, is essential. Rheumatic fever can cause complications if not treated on time such as heart failure or permanent damage to the heart valves. Other complications include surgery in case the patient does not respond to the medication on time.
The main cause is because of an infection. Other causes include -
1. Group A streptococcus
3. Scarlet fever
Other factors can increase the risk of rheumatic fever in a person -
1. Poor diet
2. Lack of nutrition
3. History of such a disease
The fact that untreated strep throat can ultimately lead to rheumatic fever, was not realized until the 19th century. Although this fever is not common in the United States, there are several countries where this condition is prevalent. By itself rheumatic fever is not an infection, but when strep throat is left untreated it can become deadly. After a person is infected with a strep infection, the body automatically releases antibodies to fight the infection. In rare cases, these antibodies will end up attacking the body's tissues or muscles instead of the infection. This leads to a severe condition which may result in death if not treated in time.
With the help of antibiotics rheumatic fever is no longer a threat to developed countries, and can be cured. This disease is a threat mainly in developing countries where the living conditions are extremely poor.
This disease is very common in cold or damp weather as well. It is crucial to go to the doctor immediately and get yourself treated in such a case. Even though most people with rheumatic fever recover fully, there are chances that the heart is permanently damaged.