by AK Team
Rheumatic fever is a kind of inflammatory diseases that can affect major organs and organ systems of the body such as the cardiovascular system, brain and the skin, etc.
Rheumatic fever in simpler terms can be defined as an autoimmune disease as it is an over – reaction of ones body’s immune system in which the phagocytic and other defensive cells of the immune system fight against the healthy tissues and cells of the body.
This autoimmune disease is caused if the scarlet fever which is a type of bacterial infection and strep throat are left untreated for a very long period of time than usual. As scarlet fever and strep throat are left untreated, they both trigger the immune cells of the body to fight against the healthy cells of the body which as a result causes a type of inflammation and this eventually leads to rheumatic fever.
Like scarlet fever, this fever is also very common in children between 5 and 15 years of age and is a bit less common in young adults and people of old age
If this fever is left untreated for a longer period of time then it may lead to various cardiovascular diseases and even heart failure. There are various treatments available for this type of disease. The treatments do not promise to cure the infected person completely but gurantee to reduce the risk of spreading it to various other parts of body and causing serious complications. The treatments can also reduce the pain, inflammation and also the chance of recurrence of this type of disease.
PATHOPHISIOLOGY OF RHEUMATIC FEVER
- Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that might affect various other organs of the body in the later on stages.
- This type of disease is a result of untreated scarlet fever or strep throat disease both of which are a result of a bacterial infection ( Streptococcus pyogens).
- If the strep throat or scarlet fever is left untreated for about 5 weeks or more then this condition may eventually give rise to an inflammatory autoimmune disease that is known as rheumatic fever.
- Rheumatic fever is caused as the immune system of the body is triggered by the untreatment of strep throat or scarlet fever
- This trigerness of the immune system leads the immune cells or the phagocytic cells of the body such as the macrophages, etc. to kill the healthy cells and tissues that are present in the body.
- This in return causes an inflammatory response in the infected person’s body
- This type of disease is not contagious at all as it is not an infection but an auto immune disease
- Hence this disease cannot be spread from one infected person to other healthy person by any means of direct contact or even indirect contact
- Though this disease is not contagious, but the infections that lead to this kind of disease are contagious, that is scarlet fever and strep throat infectious are contagious disease and can be spread by droplet infection (coughing, speaking, sneezing of the infected person) as it is an air – borne disease.
- This type of disease is very common in children with the age of 5 to 15 years and this disease very rarely observed in children with 3 years of age or below. And this disease is quite rare in young adults and people with older age as compared to children to 5 and 15 years of age.
SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATIC FEVER
There are various symptoms that are caused by this type of auto immune inflammatory disease. The symptoms that occur in an individual depends at what stage of this autoimmune disease the person is at currently. Some of the most common and main symptoms of this type of auto immune inflammatory disease are listed below :
- Painful tender joints (arthritis) and this is most common in the knees and ankles and sometimes in the elbow and wrist as well
- Some symptoms of congestive heart failure may occur as well
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Faster heartbeat
- Extreme tiredness
- Uncontrollable body movements that are commonly known as chorea and these sometimes might be jerky as well
- Formation of painless lumps or nodules usually under the skin and near the joints
- Formation of pink rings that usually have a clear white center
- An enlarged heart
- Infectious fluid in or around the heart
- A nodule or lump formation in the heart
- Formation of a heart murmur
- Redness of joints
- Swollen joints
- Red and swollen tonsils
- Flat or slightly raised painful bump
- Outburst of unusual behaviour that is usually accompanied by Sydenham chorea
CAUSES OF PHEUMATIC FEVER
- The main cause of rheumatic fever is not treating the scarlet fever or the strep throat infection for a very long period of time (for about 3 to 5 weeks or more )
- The bacteria that causes this type of autoimmune inflammatory disease is Streptococcus pyogens to group A
- This bacteria ( causative agent of scarlet fever and strep throat eventually leading to rheumatic fever ) tricks the immune system cells of the body, that is the immune cells such as phagocytic cells (macrophages)
- These immune cells then attack and kill the healthy cells and tissues of the person’s own body itself.
- The resulting condition is inflammatory (causing inflammation in various parts of the body )
- Family history if this kind of auto immune inflammatory disease can also lead to it but this condition is very rare
- Some environmental factors such as poor sanitization and some other conditions as well might lead to this disease eventually.
DIAGNOSIS OF RHEUMATIC FEVER
There are various diagnostic methods that are various diagnostic methods that are present for the diagnosis of such type auto immune inflammatory disease. Some of the diagnostic tests that one might consider if suspected for this disease are listed below :
- Physical examination
- Various blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Throat swab
TREATMENT FOR RHEUMATIC FEVER
There are various treatments that are available for this kind of auto immune disease. The kind of treatment a person receives entirely depends at what stage of the disease a person is currently. Some of the common treatments that are available for this kind of disease are listed below :
- Anti – inflammatory drugs
- Anti – convulsant medications
- Bed rest