Treat Strep Throat to Prevent Rheumatic Heart Disease

by Jodee on February 26, 2009

Rheumatic fever is relatively rare in the United States, but that is not the case in developing countries. In those locations, this disorder can lead to rheumatic heart disease, which has been listed as the leading cause of death of people under the age of 50 in many countries. Rheumatic fever affects the joints, skin, and brain. It can also damage the heart.

One strain of strep throat, called group A a-hemolytic streptococcus, can turn into rheumatic fever if it is not treated with antibiotics. Most people who develop strep throat are between the ages of 5 and 15 years. For children in this age group, most of the time their sore throats are not caused by strep throat. The likely culprit is a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of strep throat include a sore throat, pain when swallowing, and a fever. The symptoms of rheumatic fever are similar to those of strep throat. Be on the lookout for joint pain, chest pain, swollen joints, shortness of breath, and a skin rash. Rheumatic fever is treated with antibiotics, and it’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms. A throat swab will need to be done to determine whether the symptoms are being caused by strep throat.

Even if a person with rheumatic fever has been treated with antibiotics, they are at an increased risk of developing the condition again if they have strep throat a second time. They may need to take antibiotics regularly to prevent strep throat from occurring again. The rheumatic fever can make the rheumatic heart disease worse.

A person may also develop an inflammation of the heart (rheumatic carditis) from the fever. In this situation, a long-term course of antibiotics will be prescribed.

Previous post:

Next post: