April 1, 2010

Rheumatic Fever in Children

Posted in Category : Child Health

Rheumatic fever is a condition that affects a person’s joints, brain, heart, skin and blood vessels. It can develop in a person after they suffer from ailments like scarlet fever and strep throat. It is often a reaction to the streptococcus bacteria and could be prevented if a strep throat is diagnosed in time and treated properly, with antibiotics. Though not very common, it can occur in children too, if strep infections are not treated, or are treated, but inadequately. Children between the ages of five to fifteen, who suffer from strep throats frequently, are more susceptible to this condition. Children with a history of the disease in the family may also be at risk. While strep throats are contagious, rheumatic fever is not.


The symptoms of this fever in children begins anywhere between one week to five weeks after the child gets infected with the bacteria. Different children infected by this disease may experience different symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is an inflammation in the joints, which includes redness, tenderness and swelling in multiple joints. The most commonly affected joints are the ankles and the knees. This inflammation moves to various joints in the body. This can be accompanied by a pink colored rash, with an odd edge, visible on the arms, legs and trunk of the body. Round and hard bumps or round nodules may also be found under the child’s skin. Apart from the physical symptoms, your child may also experience fatigue, weight loss, stomachaches and fever. As a lot of these symptoms are common to other medical problems, a physician should be consulted, to confirm the presence of rheumatic fever.


The right treatment for a child suffering from rheumatic fever can be determined by a physician. The medication would be based on factors like the child’s medical history and overall health, as well as the child’s tolerance and reactions to certain therapies, medication and procedures. In most cases, the treatment includes a combination of:

  • Streptococcus infection treatment: First, the infection needs to be treated, using antibiotics, even if the throat culture shows a negative result. After an initial treatment, monthly antibiotic doses may be required, to prevent complications.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: The child may need to take medicines to decrease the swelling that affects the heart muscle. Medication would also help to give the child relief from pain in the joints.
  • Bed rest: Depending upon the severity of the condition, the child may need to take complete bed rest for anywhere between two to twelve weeks.

Monitoring and medications may be necessary for children who are high at risk or have suffered from rheumatism in the past. Close observations are important till the child is eighteen or is not at risk for heart diseases.