What is Rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever is caused due an infection in the streptococcus pyogenes. It is nothing but the scarlet fever or strep throat. Scarlet fever or rheumatic fever causes rashes due to streptococcal and is characterised as an inflammatory disease. It is commonly believed that rheumatic fever is caused due to abnormal or cross reactivity in antibody, which involves heart, brain, skin and joints. In simple terms, rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that induces feverish conditions that affects the connective tissues of heart, joints, blood vessels, skin and brain. Rheumatic fever is likely to develop gradually after a couple of week of infection developed in streptococcus pyogenes.
The history of rheumatic fever can be traced in the 15th century and it has been detected that symptoms of rheumatic fever is closely associated with throat infection. The surprising fact about rheumatic fever is the streptococcal infection, which causes rheumatic fever is a contagious infection, whereas the rheumatic fever is not a contagious disease.
Acute rheumatic fever is quite common in children belonging to the age group of 5 to 13 years. Until the available of penicillin made broader, it lead towards causing death sentence in most of the children affected by this condition.
Diagnosis of Rheumatic fever
Since different parts of the body are affected by streptococcal infection, it is not possible to diagnose rheumatic fever through a single test. American Heart Association has released the instructions called Jones criteria, which act as guidelines in diagnosing rheumatic fever. According to Jones criteria, any one or two major conditions, two minor conditions and streptococcal infection result in rheumatic fever. Major and minor conditions considered for diagnosis are given below.
• Inflammation of heart – rheumatic fever heart
• Arthritis in joints – rheumatic fever arthritis
• Rashes in skin – rheumatic fever of skin
• Nodules under skin
Causes of rheumatic fever:
As stated earlier, rheumatic fever is closely connected with streptococcal infections. In most of the cases, rheumatic fever is said to be preceded by an infection of throat. The infection results in an autoimmune disorder and lead towards development of symptoms and signs as described by rheumatic fever criteria i.e Jones criteria.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever:
Initially, pain in the joints and arthritis are likely to be the signs of rheumatic fever. In addition, there are few more symptoms associated with this condition, they are as under.
• Inflammation in the heart – very common sign of rheumatic fever
• Inflammation in joints – many people experience pain in knees
• Skin nodules – very rare symptoms which is found to be apparent in around 2% of patients
• Abnormal movements and movement disorder, which is characterised by movements of arm and face.
• Fever in case of acute infection
Treatment of rheumatic fever:
Initial treatment for rheumatic fever is focussed on eradicating the bacterial infection and the bacteria that causes the autoimmune disorder. Bacteria are removed by using penicillin. However, there are few patients who are allergic to penicillin and for those people, erythromycin is prescribed. Penicillin and other medications are provided to treat the acute infection causing rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is treated based on the underlying cause and symptoms of the condition. For instance, when the condition is diagnosed as arthritis rheumatic fever aspirin is also included.
Heart rheumatic fever required treatment with high steroid doses for controlling the inflammation. Being a serious condition, this cardiac treatment for rheumatic fever are provided by the experts and the patients are required to take the treatment as inpatients in the hospitals.
Complications and risk factors of rheumatic fever include developing severe cardiac problems leading towards dysfunction of heart, chronic arthritis, brain damage, etc. However, it is quite possible to prevent rheumatic fever. By proper diagnosis of streptococcal infection and appropriate treatments and drugs, you can prevent from rheumatic fever. The bitter part of rheumatic fever is, once you are diagnosed with the rheumatic fever, there are greater chances of recurrence of the condition. To prevent the recurrence of the condition, antibiotics should be taken for a long period.