Rheumatic fever is an illness which begins with a sore throat (a streptococcal infection). A couple of weeks after the ‘strep’ throat, your child may develop other symptoms (such as sore or swollen joints).
Key points to remember
The content on this page is created for parents/caregivers of children with rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. For info about preventing rheumatic fever, see Sore throat on this site.
- rheumatic fever is an illness which begins with a streptococcal infection.
- a few weeks after infection with the ‘strep bug’ your child might develop other symptoms such as sore or swollen joints
- each attack of rheumatic fever may cause long-term damage to their heart valves. This is called rheumatic heart disease
- it is very important that your child does not get rheumatic fever once again
- the best way to stop your child having another attack of rheumatic fever is to make sure they have routine penicillin injections – on time
What is Rheumatic Fever in Babies?
Rheumatic fever is an illness which starts with a streptococcal infection.
A few weeks after the ‘strep’ throat or ‘school sores’ your child might establish:
- sore or swollen joints (knees, elbows, ankles and wrists).
- a skin rash.
- a fever.
- stomach pain.
- jerky movements.
How can rheumatic fever impact the heart?
If your child has a bad attack of rheumatic fever, it may cause irreversible damage to their heart valves. This is called rheumatic heart disease.
A heart valve acts like a one method door. It ensures that blood pumped by the heart flows in one instructions just. When the heart valve is harmed it can leak and may cause:.
Will these symptoms of rheumatic fever go away?
Most of these acute symptoms, such as sore or swollen joints (knees, elbows, ankles and wrists), a skin rash, a fever, stomach pain and jerky movements, will go away in time.
However, damage to the heart valves – rheumatic heart disease – might be long-term.
What takes place when my child is in health center?
Your child will typically have to stay in health center for 1 to 2 weeks, but it is often longer if their heart is impacted. They will have regular assessments and blood tests to inspect their condition. Once a medical diagnosis of rheumatic fever has actually been verified, sore joints can be treated with rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen is a typically used NSAID.
What if my child also has rheumatic heart disease?
If your child has damage to their heart valve they:
- may have to remain in healthcare facility for longer.
- might have penicillin injections for much longer.
- will require special care when visiting the dental professional or dental therapist (nurse).
- might ultimately require surgery to repair the damaged valve.
Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about the care and treatment your child requires while they remain in hospital.
What care will my child requirement at home?
Your child will still need to relax when they go home. They will likewise need to have ongoing penicillin injections to prevent another attack. Another antibiotic, such as erythromycin, will be given to people who dislike penicillin.
It is essential that your child does not get rheumatic fever once again. Another attack might cause long term damage to the heart and heart valves.
How can I stop my child having another attack of rheumatic fever?
The best way to stop your child having another attack of rheumatic fever is to make sure they have regular penicillin injections – on time.
- should be given every 28 days.
- are given in your child’s thigh or bottom.
- can be painful initially but children quickly get used to them.
- are provided by your neighborhood nurse, district nurse or public health nurse. They will pertain to your home or your child’s school and provide the injection.
How long will my child need to have penicillin injections?
Your child will have to have injections for Ten Years, or till they are 21 years old, whichever is longer. If your child has damage to their heart valve they might need injections till they are Thirty Years old.
This may seem like a long period of time but if your child doesn’t have these injections they could have another rheumatc fever attack which increases the risk of heart valve damage.
Your doctor will tell you when it is safe for your child to stop having the penicillin injections.
What if my child misses or forgets an injection?
It is extremely important that your child does not miss an injection. If they do, then you must schedule them to get the next injection as quickly as possible.
Remember to inform your doctor or nurse if your child is going overseas, on holiday, away for a while, or you are moving house.
They can then set up continuous treatment for your child.
Your child needs to never stop penicillin treatment without discussing this first with your doctor.
Will my child have the ability to lead a typical life?
With proper care and regular penicillin injections, many children with rheumatic fever lead a normal life.
The important thing is to make sure your child never has another attack of rheumatic fever. The only way you can do this is to make sure they have their routine penicillin injections.
What else do I have to do if my child has rheumatic heart disease?
Looking after their teeth
You have to tell your child’s dental practitioner or dental therapist (nurse) that your child has rheumatic heart disease because your child will need additional antibiotics by mouth before some types of dental treatment.
When the dental practitioner is working on your child’s teeth, tiny bugs in the mouth (we all have them) can enter the blood stream. The blood will bring these bugs to the heart and might cause more damage to the heart valves. This is called infective endocarditis.
You need to assist your child to care for their teeth and prevent any infection.
Make sure that they:
- brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride tooth paste.
- do not have sweet food and beverages too often.
- have dental checks every 6 months.
Looking after their health
You have to tell your child’s doctor if they are having a medical procedure. There is an increased risk to them if they get an infection.
Your child needs to continue having penicillin injections during pregnancy up until her doctor says they are no longer needed.
Other common concerns and answers about rheumatic fever.
What takes place when my child completes having injections?
Your doctor will inform you when it is safe for your child to stop having the penicillin injections.
When your child gets a sore throat, they will need to have an examination to see if they have a ‘strep’ throat. If they do, it will have to be appropriately dealt with.
What about diet and rheumatic fever?
Because rheumatic fever can impact the heart, it is essential not to add additional stress on the heart either by smoking cigarettes or being overweight.
To assist your child, ensure they eat a healthy diet.
Is rheumatic fever capturing?
You can not ‘capture’ rheumatic fever from another person, however ‘strep’ throats can be handed down to others by breathing or coughing over them.
Does rheumatic fever run in the household?
There is no genuine proof that rheumatic fever runs in the family. Nevertheless some families get rheumatic fever more than others.
Members of those households must make sure that when they get a sore throat they go to the doctor for a checkup. If it is a ‘strep’ throat they can get it properly dealt with.
How to treat sore throats to prevent rheumatic fever.
If your child or anyone in your family gets a sore throat:
- go to their doctor and ask for a throat swab.
- have a throat swab done and check if it is a ‘strep’ throat.
The doctor will either provide:
- a course of penicillin tablets. These tablets must be started immediately and considered 10 days (even if the sore throat feels better after 2 to 3 days). Erythromycin will be offered to people who dislike penicillin, or.
- 1 injection of penicillin.
Your doctor will tell you if it is not a ‘strep’ throat.
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