Known for predominantly attacking children of the age group 5 to 15 years, rheumatic fever usually develops after the phase of streptococcus infection causing inflammation. It can develop in either gender and can cause damage to the vital organs of the body like heart, brain, joints and skin.
Rheumatic fever is usually caused by streptococcus infection and hence can be seen in people who have suffered an attack of scarlet fever or strep throat. Though research continues on its’ symptoms and causes, some prominent causes are enlisted in this article:
Common Causes Of Rheumatic Fever
Respiratory Infections Developed in the Upper Tract
In certain cases, rheumatic fever can be caused by acute respiratory infections. Though rare, there are times when we inhale disease causing bacteria, virus and fungi. Inadvertently, they affect the respiratory tracts causing inflammation in the tracts. In such cases, bacterial pharyngitis should also be taken into account. Other than air borne bacterial infection, the respiratory tract can also be affected by compromising with the weakened immune system. In both cases, however, it can lead to the condition called rheumatic fever.
A throat infection, caused by a bacterium of the group A streptococcus family is perhaps the most accepted cause of rheumatic fever. Scientists are of the opinion that the bacteria causing infection suppress the immune system.
Additionally, strep bacteria contain a special kind of protein which is also known to be present in the human body. This further lessens the powers of the immune system. As such a person suffering from strep throat must complete the entire dosage of antibiotics to avoid chances of rheumatic fever.
Caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria, scarlet fever is characterized by skin rashes and reddishness of the skin. This is caused by the toxins released by the bacteria. Penicillin and other noted antibiotics can cure scarlet fever. If however, these antibiotics are not taken, it can cause rheumatic fever. In most cases, in almost a months’ time, the occurrence of rheumatic fever can be diagnosed. In severe cases, the toxins from the bacteria can spread to the heart causing rheumatic heart disease.
Hyperactive Immune System
If the body is exposed to any form of bacterial infection, the immune system will be affected. Those cells which otherwise defend the tissues from the invasion of bacteria and other germs get so charged that they start attacking their own tissues, especially those present in the nervous system, heart and skin which eventually result in inflammation.
This can have varying degree of consequences – while in a mild form in joints, it can lead to temporary arthritis, in a strong degree it can cause permanent damage to the heart valves.
It has been seen that rheumatic fever is mostly seen in the developing nations, especially in Africa, whereas it is almost absent in the western countries, especially in the US or Scotland. A research shows that almost 3% military recruits have been diagnosed with rheumatic fever. These details indicated that the living conditions of people also play a dominant role in developing rheumatic fever. Western countries are cleaner and it is likely that children are given timely vaccination. This prevents the development of any infection.
As such one can say that rheumatic fever can be caused in several ways as discussed above. The trick is to ensure that they are diagnosed immediately and appropriately.