Doctors treat acute rheumatic fever with antibiotics to kill the infectious bacteria responsible, anti-inflammatory medications to address the inflammation, and supportive care as needed, depending on how the patient's case unfolds. Acute rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that develops in the wake of an infection with Streptococcus bacteria. The patient develops joint pain, heart problems, and sometimes symptoms like tremors or convulsions. If the condition is not treated, severe heart damage and death can occur.
When patients have active Streptococcus infections, prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent the onset of rheumatic fever. The patient should improve and recover fully. If the treatment is not adequate, the patient can start to experience rheumatic fever symptoms like a high fever, joint pain, and disorientation. The patient may also have difficulty breathing and can develop tremors. People between five and 15 years of age are most likely to develop this complication of Streptococcus infection.
A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to address the lingering bacteria in the body. These may be delivered intravenously to offer a quick dose of fast-acting medication with the goal of preventing the infection from getting any worse. Anti-inflammatory medications are also an important part of acute rheumatic fever treatment. These medications can include steroids, if appropriate, to prevent damage to the heart and other structures in the body. Analgesia can help patients who are in pain and anticonvulsant medications may be part of the treatment plan as well.
Medical personnel will monitor a patient with acute rheumatic fever closely for signs of cardiac complications. Patients can go into congestive heart failure. This will require more aggressive treatments to keep the patient's heart and lungs functioning while fighting the infection. Hospitalization is common with this medical condition because of the potential for serious complications. Patients in the hospital can receive supportive care like fluids and supplemental oxygen, if necessary.
After a patient recovers from acute rheumatic fever, a doctor will discuss long term management of the patient's health. Antibiotic therapy is usually part of treatment to prevent the bacteria from returning while the patient is feeling unwell. The patient may need to visit a cardiologist for followups to check on heart health. Patients with a history of this condition have an increased risk of heart problems and may need to take prophylactic antibiotics before some medical procedures to reduce the risk of developing endocarditis, a potentially dangerous inflammation of the heart caused by bacterial infection.