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Rheumatic fever, popularly called rheumatism in the blood, is a disease caused by an autoimmune reaction of the body after infections caused by bacteria.
This disease is more common in children between 5 and 15 years old and usually causes symptoms such as pain and inflammation in the joints, as well as fever and tiredness. In addition, rheumatism in the blood can still affect the nervous system and even the heart valves, impairing the functioning of the heart.
Rheumatism in the blood must be treated as soon as the first symptoms appear, to avoid the emergence of permanent damage to the brain or heart, which can lead to complications such as heart valve stenosis or heart failure, for example.
One of the first symptoms of rheumatism in the blood is the presence of inflammation in a large joint, such as the knee, which lasts a few days, heals on its own and then appears in another joint and so on.
However, it can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Fever above 38º C;
- Small nodules under the skin, most common on wrists, elbows, or knees;
- Chest pain;
- Red spots on the torso or arms, which get worse when standing in the sun.
Depending on whether or not there is already cardiac involvement, there may still be tiredness and increased heart rate. If there is brain involvement, there may be behavioral changes, such as crying and tantrums, and motor changes, such as involuntary movements or seizures.
See more signs of rheumatic fever.
The most common cause of blood rheumatism is a throat infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, which is a group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus, that has not been promptly treated or has not been treated properly.
The initial picture is a throat infection in which the body creates antibodies to fight the bacteria, but then, and it is not known why, these antibodies end up fighting the bacteria and also attacking the body's he althy joints.
Studies indicate that some people have a genetic susceptibility to this disease, that is, some genes present in the body may indicate that one day the person may develop a rheumatic disease and, when the person does not adequately treat the infection, this bacterium and its toxins can activate these genes and help trigger rheumatic fever.
How to confirm the diagnosis
There is no single test that can definitively diagnose rheumatism in the blood and, therefore, the doctor, in addition to evaluating the symptoms, may order several tests such as electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and blood tests, such as blood count, ESR and ASLO, for example. Find out what it is for and how the ASLO exam is performed.
How the treatment is done
The main goal of treatment is to eliminate the bacteria that caused the initial infection to relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation in the body. For this, several remedies can be prescribed:
- Antibiotics, such as Benzathine Penicillin: help kill remaining bacteria;
- Anti-inflammatories such as Naproxen: relieve joint inflammation and pain and may also relieve fever;
- Anticonvulsants, such as Carbamazepine or Valproic Acid: decrease involuntary movements;
- Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA): decreases joint inflammation and heart disease;
- Corticoids, such as Prednisone: improve cardiac impairment.
Also, it is important to rest when the joint pain is very intense and to drink plenty of water to help the immune system function. Understand better how the treatment is done.