What Is Rheumatic Fever And How It Is Caused


Rheumatic fever is a type of inflammatory condition that happens when scarlet fever or
strep throat is not properly treated. Both of these conditions are caused due to an infection
by the streptococcus bacteria in children who are in the age group of 5 to 15 years.
However, rheumatic fever can also develop in older children and adults.


The signs and symptoms of rheumatic fever may vary from person to person. It can also
change during the course of the condition. Yet generally, patients experience chronic fever
as well as pain, tenderness, and redness in the joints, especially in the ankles, elbows,
knees, and wrists. The symptoms usually appear around 2 to 4 weeks of the bacterial
Other common symptoms of rheumatic fever include small blisters under the skin, chest
pain, fatigue, heart murmur, and flat or slightly raised rashes. Some patients also
experience pain in one joint that gradually moves to another joint, as well as uncontrollable
shuddering body movements in the hands, feet, and face. Sudden episodes of unusual
behavior, such as inappropriate laughing or crying, are also seen in patients with rheumatic
fever. These symptoms indicate inflammation in the heart and central nervous system.


Rheumatic fever is caused by the infection from group A streptococcus bacteria, which
leads to strep throat and scarlet fever. Although there is not much evidence to state how
rheumatic fever is linked to these conditions, it is seen that the group A streptococcus
bacteria tricks the immune system to attack the healthy tissues in the joints, skin, heart,
and central nervous system. In turn, this causes inflammation in different areas of the body.
The inflammation caused due to rheumatic fever can last for a couple of weeks to many
months, which could then lead to several long-term complications. In some cases,
rheumatic fever has been seen to cause permanent narrowing and damage to the heart

valves. It can even cause a leak in the heart valves, making the blood flow to the wrong
Rheumatic fever is also associated with the weakening of heart muscle and damages to the
mitral valve, which could lead to irregular and chaotic heartbeat and even heart failure.
That is why it is important to see a doctor as soon as any signs of rheumatic fever are
noticed. The treatment will help to manage the symptoms and reduce the damage caused
by inflammation. It will also prevent rheumatic fever from happening again. Make sure to                                                                speak to your Rheumatologist at any Low Income Clinic.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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