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Rheumatic fever: what it is, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of various tissues in the body, resulting in joint pain, skin nodules, heart problems, muscle weakness, and involuntary movements.

Rheumatic fever usually follows an episode of infection and inflammation of the throat that is not properly treated and caused by the bacteria. Streptococcus pyogenes. Infection with this bacteria is more common in children and adolescents up to 15 years of age, but it can happen in people of any age.

Therefore, in case of signs and symptoms of pharyngitis and recurrent tonsillitis, it is recommended to consult the doctor so that the appropriate treatment can be started to avoid the complications of the infection. Streptococcus pyogenes.

Main symptoms

When the bacterial infection Streptococcus pyogenes it is not correctly treated with the use of antibiotics, as indicated by the pediatrician or general practitioner, the antibodies produced in inflammation can attack various organs of the body, such as the joints, heart, skin and brain.

Thus, in addition to fever, which can reach 39°C, the main symptoms of rheumatic fever are:

  • joint symptoms: pain and swelling of joints, such as knees, elbows, ankles and wrists, which have a migratory pattern, that is, this inflammation can shift from one joint to another, and it can last up to 3 months;
  • cardiac symptoms: shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain, cough, leg swelling, and heart murmur may be caused by inflammation of the heart valves and muscles;
  • neurological symptoms: involuntary movements of the body, such as lifting arms or legs without the person wanting to, and these neurological manifestations are known as chorea. There may also be constant mood swings, slurred speech and muscle weakness;
  • skin symptoms: lumps under the skin or reddened patches.

The symptoms of rheumatic fever usually appear between 2 weeks to 6 months after the infection with the bacteria, and can last for several months, depending on the correct performance of the treatment and the immunity of each person. However, if the damage caused to the heart is very serious, the person can have sequelae in the functioning of the heart. Furthermore, as symptoms can occur in outbreaks, each time they appear the cardiac consequences are worse, putting the person’s life at risk.

How is the diagnosis made

The diagnosis of rheumatic fever is made by the general practitioner, rheumatologist or pediatrician based on the presence of the main symptoms and physical examination of the patient and the results of some blood tests that demonstrate inflammation, such as ESR and PCR.

In addition, the presence of antibody against the bacteria of rheumatic fever is investigated, which is detected by tests of secretions from the throat and blood, such as the ASLO test, and this test is important to confirm the infection by the bacteria and confirm the diagnosis. Understand how the ASLO exam is taken.

How is the treatment done

Rheumatic fever is curable, and treatment is done with the use of antibiotics, such as Benzetacil, prescribed by a pediatrician, rheumatologist or general practitioner. Already the symptoms of inflammation in the joints and heart can be relieved with rest and use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and prednisone, for example.

Depending on the severity of the rheumatic fever, the doctor may recommend that intramuscular injections of Benzetacil be performed with an interval of 21 days, which can last up to 25 years depending on the degree of cardiac involvement.

Prevention of rheumatic fever

Prevention of rheumatic fever is very important to prevent the development of this disease and its sequelae and, therefore, it is important that in the case of pharyngitis or tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, antibiotic treatment is carried out according to the doctor’s recommendation. complete the treatment, even if there are no more symptoms.

For people who have had at least one episode of rheumatic fever symptoms, it is important to follow the treatment with Benzetacil injections to prevent flare-ups from happening and there is a greater risk of complications.

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