What Causes Rheumatic Fever?

You're reading What Causes Rheumatic Fever?, posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 5:13 am in Uncategorized, on BrainBloggers at the Stay Healthy blog. More after the jump.

Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease that usually occurs after a group A streptococcal throat infection. It usually causes inflammatory lesions in connective tissues especially in the heart, blood vessels, joints and so on. The disease has been known since 1500s but the relation between rheumatic fever symptom and throat infection was not discovered till the 1880s. Mostly, it was thought to be associated with scarlet fever, in the 1900s. During that time, penicillin was not invented, so most of the children dies due to this disease. It has many symptoms and can attack almost any part of the body such as the skin, joints, heart and brain. It is also observed that the fever is repetitive in middle aged people (those who are 20-40 years).

There are numerous causes of this disease. Sore throat or strep throat is one of the main cause and is mainly because of the A streptococcus bacteria. There is an established pattern and it is observed that rheumatic fever generally accompanies scarlet fever and a sore throat. It never usually occurs due to infections in other parts of the body. It is usually essential to treat sore throat with antibiotics to avoid this fever. What makes it a little dangerous, is there are no exact causes of this fever.

What are the symptoms of this almost-eradicated disease? There can be inflammatory sensation in the joints, central nervous system and the heart and these signs are pretty good indications of a person suffering from a case of rheumatic fever. It has also been noted that the signs vary from person to person. Some of the other symptoms are listed as below:

Chest pain

Fever

Shortness of breath

Joint pain

Nodules below skin

Tenderness in skin

Rash on skin

Inflammation of the heart

Jerky movements

Weight loss

Fatigue

Although it is a serious ailment, there is cure for it too. There are no actual cure for this disease, but some medicaton is usually provided to reduce the sensation of inflammation. The streptococcal infection can be prevented by providing penicillin to the patient. To combat the fever, aspirin is usually given to reduce the fever. To reduce the swelling and the joint pains, corticosteroids is given. The best and the most reliable treatment is, bed rest. It usually helps the patients to heal and of course, the intke of fluids is a must. The patient must have around 6-8 glasses of water to have the energy to fight the disease.

The fever has numerous complications too. Due to initial attack, some people may take a turn for the worse such as rheumatic heart disease which causes problems in heart due to the fever, sydenham chorea which give rise to spasms in the body, endocarditis which deal with endocardium, Arrhythmias which is a disorder in the heart rhythm and so on. There is no said way of preventing this fever. Most doctors do not know how to reduce the speed of the damage to the valves of the heart. Thus, before the disease gets too severe, it is best to start the treatment as soon as possible.