Rheumatic fever


Inflammation of the child’s tissues and organs, such as the heart or joints, is brought on by the rare autoimmune condition known as rheumatic fever. Both strep throat and scarlet fever are bacterial infections that result from an infection with Group A Streptococcus bacteria. The immune system of the child may begin attacking its own tissues if the infections are not treated

Most frequently, children between the ages of 5 and 15 are affected with rheumatic fever. However, it can also appear in adults and younger children. Heart failure and damaged heart valves are among the longterm effects of rheumatic fever. Treatment can lessen pain, lessen inflammationrelated damage, and stop rheumatic fever from returning.

Serious health issues affecting the child’s heart, joints, or other organs may result in serious complications. Take a child to the healthcare provider if it appears they may have strep throat or scarlet fever. This may lessen the risk of rheumatic fever


People may be affected in various ways by rheumatic fever. Sometimes strep infections are so mild that people are unaware they have them until later when rheumatic fever appears

Inflammation of the heart, joints, skin, or central nervous system causes the symptoms of rheumatic fever. There could be a few or many symptoms. Throughout the course of the disease, symptoms may change. Rheumatic fever often starts 2 to 4 weeks after contracting strep throat.

Signs and symptoms of rheumatic fever might include

  • Rash: A rash is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatic fever. A flat, red rash with irregular edges is possible
  • Fever 
  • Tender, swollen, and painful joints, especially in the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists
  • Nodules or tiny bumps under the child’s skin
  • The pain originating in one joint and subsequently shifting to another joint.
  • Chest pain and abnormal heartbeat 
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Syndeham chorea, which causes jerky, uncontrollable movements of the hands, feet, and face.
  • Abnormal behavioral outbursts, such as sobbing or inappropriate laughter, accompany Sydenham chorea. 
  • Persistent or unexplained headaches, particularly if the child has never previously reported having head pain.

Rheumatic fever can be prevented with proper strep throat treatment. If the child has a sudden sore throat, swallowing trouble, fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting, then schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider.


When a child has rheumatic fever, their immune system overreacts and starts attacking healthy tissues, specifically in the heart, joints, skin, and central nervous system. Tissue swelling (inflammation) is the result of this immune system overreaction. This overreaction may be brought on by untreated scarlet fever or strep throat. It occurs when group A Streptococcus infections in children are not treated with antibiotics. When the immune system’s antibodies initiate a response, there is a possibility that the reaction may inadvertently harm healthy tissues and organs instead of solely targeting the bacteria.

When strep throat is promptly treated with antibiotics and all medicine is taken as directed, there is a small chance that rheumatic fever will develop. If a child experiences one or multiple untreated episodes of strep throat or scarlet fever, it can lead to the development of rheumatic fever.

Risk factors

Rheumatic fever may be brought on by a number of factors, including

  • Age: Rheumatic fever may affect anybody. But children and teenagers (aged 5 to 15) are the ones who are most affected. Rheumatic fever in adults is quite rare
  • Family history: Family members may be more susceptible to contracting rheumatic fever if one member has already experienced it. Some persons may be predisposed to developing rheumatic fever due to one or more genes
  • Environmental factor: Overcrowding, poor sanitation, and other factors that can let strep bacteria easily spread among numerous individuals are linked to a higher risk of rheumatic fever. Most rheumatic fever patients resides in areas with few medical resources, such as underdeveloped nations. The child may also be at risk  if they reside in an area where getting medication or medical attention is challenging
  • Specific type of strep bacteria: Rheumatic fever is more likely to be caused by specific strep bacteria strains than by other strains.
  • Health: The danger may increase in children who have compromised immune systems. Rheumatic fever may be more likely to strike children who frequently contract strep infections.