Rheumatic Fever In Children: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

on March 26, 2018

Rheumatic fever is one of the most distressing illnesses that occur frequently in children of all ages, but mostly occurs in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Owing to neglect in upkeep of the nasal canal, as well as being exposed to harsh weather, results in the streptococcus bacteria becoming active in the salivary glands which culminates in rheumatic fever. In the following article, we shall explore the relatively elaborate process of how rheumatic fever is caused, along with its most common symptoms, and of course, the methods that can be used to first diagnose it, and then treat it in its entirety.

Read More: Hay Fever in Children: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Rheumatic Fever In Children Causes

Present in the salivary glands, certain species of the streptococcus bacteria is responsible for a number of ailments in the human body. Some of them include bacterial pneumonia, pink eye, and flesh-eating bacterial infections, among many others. The most prominent and well-known infection that it causes, however, is strep throat, or streptococcal pharyngitis, to give its technical name. A worsening of the strep throat leads to what is commonly known as rheumatic fever. This can lead to inflammation of the heart, skin, joints, and even the central nervous system making it an alarming condition. When the natural bodily defenses attack the streptococci, the inflammation occurs in multiple places, leading to rheumatic fever. It should also be noted that rheumatic fever is more prevalent in developing countries, and musty living conditions, overpopulated places, and inadequate hygiene and ventilation can accelerate the occurrence of this illness as well. So, care should be given to maintaining a clean environment.

Read More: 11 Home Remedies for Hay Fever in Children

Rheumatic Fever

Symptoms

As mentioned before, rheumatic fever typically makes itself known in some principal areas of the body, namely the heart, skin, joints, and the central nervous system. And there are symptoms typical to each of these areas. However, before going to the symptoms of this illness, it should be noted that if strep throat is treated in proper time, it will not culminate in rheumatic fever. However, one must certainly be aware of rheumatic fever’s symptoms nonetheless, and here are some principal ones:

  • Lumps may form under the skin, usually near inflamed joints. These lumps are tiny and painless and yet quite hard. Fortunately, they aren’t permanent and go away after sometime.
  • Sydenham’s chorea, also known as St Vitus’s dance, is another symptom of rheumatic fever. It consists of convulsive movements of the face and limbs. The reason why rheumatic fever often causes chorea is that both these diseases are caused by the same kind of bacteria.
  • Chest pain is a common symptom, with extra alertness required to get a grasp on this early. This is caused by inflammation of the heart sac. Rapid chest palpitations may accompany the pain.
  • Erythema marginatum is a temporary symptom that occurs as an irregular, painless rash that lies flat on the skin and stays usually for a day.
  • As it is typical for rheumatic fever to affect the heart valves, this could result in increased heart murmurs, which are sounds that indicate blood flow through the heart.
  • Joints may become painful and stiff, or even soft to the touch. There may be an accumulation of fluid in joints, especially in the elbows, knees, ankles and wrists.
  • There is an increase in general fatigue and children may not want to be involved in too many physical activities, because of sudden exertion.
  • There may be mood swings characterized by unexpected spurts of crying and laughter, as well as facial distortions.

Treatment

In order to go for the proper treatment for rheumatic fever, it is important to properly diagnose it first. Not every rheumatic patient gets affected in the same way, so it is important to properly diagnose it first. Doctors do blood tests to look for high levels of antibodies to streptococci. Doctors also look for streptococci by swabbing the child’s throat and sending the swab to a laboratory for examination. Other blood tests, such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein, help doctors determine whether inflammation is present in the body and how widespread it is. The ESR and C-reactive protein are increased when inflammation is present. Doctors do electrocardiography (ECG—recording the heart’s electrical activity) to look for abnormal heart rhythms caused by heart inflammation. Doctors may do echocardiography (producing an image of structures in the heart by using ultrasound waves) to diagnose abnormalities of the heart valves and inflammation of the heart.If doctors are not sure whether a red, swollen joint is caused by a joint infection, rather than rheumatic fever, they may use a needle to remove fluid from the joint (joint aspiration) and do tests on the fluid.

After diagnosis, it becomes clearer where the rheumatic fever has affected the most in the body, so it is now easy to determine which treatment would be the best for the suffering child. The treatment basically refers to the removal of the bacteria and treating the symptoms. For that, the following things could be done:

Antibiotic treatment is the most commonly used treatment for rheumatic fever.  Your child might be prescribed antibiotics for a temporary time or as a part of a lifelong treatment. Anti-inflammatory treatments include pain medications that are also anti-inflammatory, such as aspirin (Bayer) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Doctors may also prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. Your child should limit his activities if he has joint pain, chorea, or heart failure. If he has not got inflammation of the heart, then he need not limit his activities after the illness subsides. Prolonged bed rest is not helpful.

Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution etc. Therefore, it is no surprise that nowadays, many people prefer homeopathic treatment over allopathic treatment. If you want a treatment for your child, which is not only effective but also devoid of side effects, unlike the conventional treatments, then you should definitely give homeopathy medication a try.

Prevention

The most effective way to make sure your child doesn’t develop rheumatic fever is to treat their strep throat infection quickly and thoroughly. This means ensuring your child completes all prescribed doses of medication. Practicing proper hygiene methods can help prevent strep throat. Make sure your child covers his mouth when coughing or sneezing. Ask him to wash your hands before and after meals, after coming back home from outside or every time he touches some dusty or dirty object. It is difficult to control children, but try to make them avoid contact with people who are sick. They should also avoid sharing personal items with people who are sick.

That being said, rheumatic fever, if diagnosed early, can be cured with proper treatment. So, instead of panicking in these situations, try to be very calm and properly follow all the steps mentioned. Remember, your child needs all the support and courage that he can get, from you. So, act accordingly.

Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!

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