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Health > Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic Fever

Rheumatic Fever

This is a rare disease which is caused by an infection in the throat.

What to look for

  • fever and tiredness.
  • a red, raised rash, usually on the chest, back, and abdomen.
  • swollen and extremely sore joints.
  • loss of appetite and weight.
  • nodules over the swollen joints -ankles, knees, wrists and elbows.
  • sometimes, weakness and shortness of breath.
  • uncontrolled movements of arms, legs, or facial muscles. (this does not always occur).

These symptoms often begin one to six weeks after a strep throat infection has appeared to clear up.
This disease is quite often fatal but fortunately it is also very rare. Rheumatic fever is a follow-on from an untreated strep throat. It is possible that the patient had the strep throat and did not recognise it.
Rheumatic fever can also cause an inflammation in the heart, which is of concern. Rheumatic fever will more than likely scar the valves of the heart which may lead to heart failure. In time, this damage to the heart can lead to rheumatic heart disease. (See heart disease.)


The streptococcus A bacteria is responsible for this disease, as the body reacts to its presence. The body produces antibodies to fight the bacteria, but instead the antibodies attack the body's own tissues. The antibodies begin with the joints and often move on to the heart and surrounding tissues.

Traditional Treatment

This disease is rare now because of the liberal use of antibiotics which keep the condition under control.
Your doctor will prescribe bed rest and penicillin to get rid of the streptococcal organisms. Always see your doctor if you suspect that your illness may be related to this disease.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are treatments to supplement the antibiotics prescribed for rheumatic fever. Always stay in contact with your doctor to ensure the two therapies do not clash.
Herbal Therapies - Herbalists recommend several herbs Garlic is considered a particularly effective natural antibiotic.
Teas made from either goldenseal or Echinacea can also be effective.
Feverwort, can help relieve the fever and other discomforts of rheumatic fever.
Drink hawthorn tea daily.
Aromatherapy - Lemongrass is suitable for fevers. Use in vaporiser or as a massage (diluted in carrier oil). See our section on Aromatherapy for more information.
Homoeopathy - Aconitum napellus is given if the child is panicky, and feverish. Bryonia for childrenwith joint pains and thirst. Dulcamara for illness brought on by damp weather. And mercurius solubis for children who sweat profusely and whose sweat smells offensive. You will need professional advice for treatments appropriate for you.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you are experiencing the symptoms listed in the description section.
  • you have a sore throat accompanied by a fever.
  • you experience sudden joint pain after recovering from strep throat

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