A few weeks ago, we shared about rheumatic fever’s causes, risk factors, and symptoms. Today, we turn to the treatment and prevention of rheumatic fever (RF).
What is the short-term treatment for RF?
- It includes bed rest, antibiotics, painkillers, and other supportive treatment.
- Penicillin is the antibiotic of choice: patients are given either a single-dose penicillin injection, or a 10-day course of alternative oral antibiotics, if allergic to penicillin.
- The exact treatment regimen and medication are decided by the treating physician.
What is the long-term treatment for RF?
- Patients with definite RF but without heart damage should receive treatment for five years or until age 21, whichever is longer.
- Patients with heart damage, but unaffected heart valves, should receive treatment for 10 years or until age 21, whichever is longer.
- Patients with heart damage and affected valves should receive treatment for 10 years or until age 40, whichever is longer; lifelong treatment may be required.
- All patients should visit their treating doctor at least once a year while on a treatment regimen.
How can RF be prevented?
- Environmental improvements: reducing overcrowding and maintaining good sanitation help reduce the threat of RF.
- Early diagnosis and treatment: consult a doctor immediately if your child develops a fever. The prescribed treatment regimen and drugs should not be stopped when the patient begins feeling better. Review with the doctor following full completion of the treatment regimen is essential.
- Regular treatment once a diagnosis is confirmed: once diagnosed, taking regular treatment helps avoid recurrent RF as well as complications of the disease. Penicillin injections are given every four weeks once in standard patients; for high-risk patients, these are administered every three weeks.
- Good follow-up throughout treatment duration: the duration of treatment is decided on case-by-case basis, but can require regular follow-up with doctors for anywhere from five years after the first attack up to lifelong treatment and care coordination.
Have questions? Have a disease, treatment, or medical topic you’d like to learn about? Comment on this post to let us know.