Rheumatic fever is an illness characterised by swelling of the heart, joints, brain, and skin. Rheumatic fever is believed to be an immunological response to a previous infection.
The immune system, as the body’s defensive mechanism, is important in battling illnesses. However, inflammation occurs when the immune system mistakenly assaults healthy components of the body (swelling).
The joints, skin, heart, blood vessels, and brain are all affected by the complicated illness known as rheumatic fever. It mostly affects kids between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. It is an autoimmune condition that develops following strep (streptococcus) bacterial infection. Scarlet fever and strep throat are examples of strep infections.
Causes of Rheumatic Fever
An autoimmune response to the strep bacteria causes rheumatic fever. When the body assaults its own tissues, it has an autoimmune response. If strep throat is identified quickly and appropriately treated with antibiotics, it can be avoided.
Rheumatic Fever In Children
The most vulnerable age range for developing rheumatic fever is 5 to 15 years old. They run the greatest risk if they:
- Have frequent strep throat infections
- Have untreated or inadequately treated strep infections.
- Have a history of rheumatic fever in your family
The winter and spring months are when rheumatic fever is more prevalent. This is due to the increased frequency of strep throat infections during certain seasons. It is infectious to have strep. It can therefore pass from child to child. Rheumatic fever, however, cannot be spread.
Rheumatic Fever Symptoms
Inflammation of the heart, joints, skin, or central nervous system causes the symptoms of rheumatic fever. There could be a few or many symptoms. Throughout the progression of the illness, symptoms can fluctuate. Rheumatic fever often starts 2 to 4 weeks after contracting strep throat.
Typical signs may include:
- Joint inflammation that results in swelling, pain, and redness in knees or ankles
- Tiny, numb, hard bumps under the skin (nodules), frequently over bony areas
- Weird, jerky motions, usually of the hands and face. A child’s handwriting may change, which is a common indicator of this.
- A red rash on the torso, arms, or legs with irregular edges.
- A heart murmur
- Chest ache
- Weight loss
- A lack of vigour (fatigue)
- Abdominal pain
These signs may resemble those of other illnesses, so it’s best to bring your child in for a checkup when you notice these symptoms.
Is Rheumatic Fever Contagious?
Rheumatic fever is not contagious because it is an immunological reaction rather than an infection. People who have group A strep can, nevertheless, spread the virus to others.
Rheumatic Heart Disease
A child’s heart may be seriously affected by the sickness, which could harm heart valves and result in heart disease. In this situation, your child might not be permitted to participate in certain sports and physical activities.
Your youngster would require more caution in the future when visiting the dentist if the heart were injured. Antibiotics may be required before receiving dental treatment. This reduces the possibility that an infection will spread to the heart during a dental operation. For more information, consult the medical professional who treats your kid.
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Diagnosing Rheumatic Fever In Children
The medical professional caring for your child will record their medical history and do a physical examination. Your kid may also get testing such as:
These are performed in order to check for indications of inflammation, recent strep infection, and other relevant issues.
The electrical activity of the heart is monitored during this test. It demonstrates irregular beats and finds cardiac muscle injury.
The throat is cleaned with a swab. To search for the strep bacteria, this is done.
The doctor who treats your child will try to find:
- Heart-related inflammation
- Joint inflammation affecting many joints
- Unusually quick movements
- Tiny, firm lumps on the skin
- A red, wavy rash
- Joint pain in one or more places
- Previous heart inflammation
- Changes to the ECG pattern
- Abnormal C-reactive protein or sedimentation rate in blood tests
Treating Rheumatic Fever In Children
The course of treatment depends on the symptoms, age, and general health of your child. Furthermore, it will depend on how serious the problem is.
The following three things are frequently combined in rheumatic fever treatment:
The first step is to administer antibiotics to treat the strep infection. Even if a throat culture is negative, this is still done. For the purpose of avoiding further strep infections, your child might require monthly doses of antibiotics. This is done to lessen the chance of the rheumatic fever returning and causing more harm to the body.
Medicines that reduce inflammation
To help reduce oedema that develops in the heart muscle, your kid may take medications. These drugs also lessen joint discomfort.
The length of bed rest will depend on how bad your child’s condition is. Between two and twelve weeks may be spent in bed.
Talk to your child’s doctor about the risks, advantages, and potential side effects of any medication.
Can Rheumatic Fever Be Prevented?
By treating strep throat with antibiotics as soon as possible and correctly, many cases of rheumatic fever may be avoided.
How Can I Assist My Child In Managing His Rheumatic Fever?
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Your child has a higher probability of contracting the illness again if they have rheumatic fever. The first three years are the most dangerous for this. With age and time, the likelihood of developing the condition again decreases.
Your child will need to take antibiotics every month after recovering from rheumatic fever. These are meant to reduce the likelihood of developing rheumatic fever once more. The use of antibiotics may frequently be discontinued by the age of 18 in children. The healthcare practitioner for your child needs to be closely followed up with.
Protect Your Child From Rheumatic Fever
A group A strep infection does not render a person immune to contracting the illness again in the future. Rheumatic fever can also recur in some people. But there are steps people can do to safeguard both themselves and other people.
Washing your hands frequently is the greatest approach to prevent contracting or spreading group A strep infection. This is crucial, especially after sneezing or coughing and before cooking or eating.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.