Rheumatic Fever – Cardiac Problem of Children

What is Rheumatic Fever?

This inflammatory condition usually happens after a child has developed streptococcal throat infection, otherwise known as strep throat. Although most cases of strep throat do not lead to rheumatic fever, a prolonged strep throat (lasting for about two to four weeks) can likely develop into rheumatic fever. Basically, rheumatic fever is not contagious, but the strep throat that happens beforehand is the one that is contagious. Therefore, treating the strep throat early is the best way to prevent rheumatic fever. The most common age group affected by this condition is children between 5 and 15 years old and it has long-term effects on various parts of the body including the heart and joints.

Now that we have a good background about the disease, let us take a look at how rheumatic fever affects children in various aspects.

What are the Common Symptoms of Rheumatic Fever in Children?

  • On and off fever
  • Painful swallowing associated with swollen throat
  • Swollen or tender glands beneath the jaw line
  • Other symptoms include appearance of skin rash on the abdomen or chest, swelling of joints, as well as presence of bumps under skin folds.

Rheumatic fever also affects other parts of the body, particularly the heart. When it is not treated early, it can result to scarred or inflamed heart valves, which may remain permanently. When this happens, the condition is known as rheumatic heart disease and it can cause permanent damage to the heart. This is why prevention and early treatment is very important for children.

Recurring Rheumatic Fever can cause serious cardiac complications.

Recurring Rheumatic Fever can cause serious cardiac complications.

Important Preventive Measures for Rheumatic Fever

  • The American Heart Association recommends keeping the child’s cavities filled regularly and teeth clean all the time to help prevent build up of infection. This can prevent rheumatic fever from developing further infection that can cause permanent damage to the cardiac valves.
  • Although restriction of heavy activities is recommended, it varies from one child to another, especially during the acute stage of rheumatic fever.
  • Children who already had a history of rheumatic fever can still have another attack at some point in time. Antibiotic therapy is usually prescribed to prevent future occurrences, but it is important to consult a pediatrician to know more about how to manage your child’s condition.
  • Take note that rheumatic fever can also affect adults, so you need to talk to your physician to know your risk.

Related video on Rheumatic Fever:

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeHl9uYgUqA” width=”220″]

Sources:

“Pediatric Rheumatic Fever.” Medscape. Retrieved online on August 16, 2014 from http://reference.medscape.com/article/1007946-overview

“Rheumatic Fever.” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved online on August 16, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatic-fever/basics/symptoms/con-20031399

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