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Rheumatic fever needs attention

ALEXANDRA - If you feel you sympthoms of rheumatic fever, then you must see your doctor or your nearest clinic.

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that occurs following a Streptococcus infection, such as streptococcal pharyngitis or scarlet fever 14-28 days thereafter.

It affects the heart, joints, skin, and brain. Acute rheumatic fever commonly appears in children between the ages of 5 to 15. It is very similar to rheumatism. Boys and girls have the same risk of developing the disease; girls and women tend to have more severe symptoms.

Symptoms

Abdominal pain

Fever

Heart problems, which may not have symptoms, or may result in shortness of breath and chest pain

Joint pain, arthritis (mainly in the knees, elbows, ankles, and wrists)

Joint swelling; redness or warmth

Nosebleeds

Skin nodules

Skin rash

If you or your family member has these symptoms, please contact your doctor or local clinic immediately. You will be examined checking your heart sounds, skins and joints and may be referred.

Tests that may be done are:

Blood test for recurrent strep infection

Complete blood count

Electrocardiogram

These tests are done at the hospital.

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever you will be treated with antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or corticosteroids reduce inflammation to help manage acute rheumatic fever. After completing the full course of antibiotics, the patient will be prescribed another course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence.

It is important to get rid of any streptococcocal bacteria. If any is left inside the body and the patient has another throat infection, there is a serious risk of a recurrence of rheumatic fever. Repeated occurrences of rheumatic fever significantly raise the risk of heart damage.

Rheumatic fever can cause permanent damage to the heart, including damaged heart valves and heart failure. Treatments can reduce tissue damage from inflammation, lessen pain and other symptoms, and prevent the recurrence of rheumatic fever. You may have to take low doses of antibiotics over the long term to prevent strep throat from returning.

If you are in doubt rather seek medical attention.

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