Skip to content

Understanding Rheumatic Fever

Understanding Rheumatic Fever -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Find Out If I Have Rheumatic Fever?

To determine the presence of streptococcus bacteria, your doctor will do a throat culture. This uncomfortable but risk-free procedure involves swabbing a sample of throat mucus for lab analysis. It usually takes 24 hours to grow and analyze the culture. Some doctors also use a rapid strep test that can give results in about five minutes, but it isn't as accurate as the culture.

Your doctor will also give you a complete exam, listening to your heart for evidence of heart valve malfunction -- which will create a heart sound called a heart "murmur" -- and looking for other telltale symptoms, such as arthritis in more than one joint and the small nodules that often appear on the joints, especially the elbows.

Recommended Related to

Understanding Rheumatic Fever -- Symptoms

Swollen, tender, red, and extremely painful joints -- particularly the knees or ankles Fever A red, raised, lattice-like rash, usually on the chest, back, and abdomen Nodules, or small protuberances, over the swollen joints Sometimes, weakness and shortness of breath caused by heart involvement Sometimes, uncontrolled movements of arms, legs, or facial muscles called chorea These symptoms often begin two to four weeks after a strep throat infection has appeared to clear up....

Read the Understanding Rheumatic Fever -- Symptoms article > >

What Are the Treatments for Rheumatic Fever?

Appropriate, often long-term, conventional treatment can greatly lessen the risk of heart disease and other health problems associated with rheumatic fever. Alternative treatments serve as complements to conventional care -- helping to ease symptoms of the illness and helping to avoid recurrent attacks.

Your doctor will prescribe rest and penicillin or other antibiotics to get rid of the streptococcal organisms. To prevent a recurrence of the illness, you may be put on a long-term prescription of antibiotics. For fever, inflammation, arthritic joint pain, and other symptoms, you may be given aspirin or another anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, and perhaps a corticosteroid. If you have developed rheumatic heart disease, it will also be important to take antibiotics at certain times -- such as before dental procedures or surgery -- which may accidentally introduce bacteria into the blood, to prevent a reccurrence of heart valve inflammation. If inflammation to the heart is severe, surgery may eventually be necessary to repair damage to the heart valves to prevent heart failure.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on March 18, 2015
Next Article:

Understanding Rheumatic Fever Topics

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
Does your kid have symptoms?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.