Treatment And Prevention
Rheumatic fever is treated primarily with antibiotics. In severe cases of carditis, corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation. Because rheumatic fever tends to recur, patients must continue antibiotic therapy in order to prevent subsequent strep infections. Typically, this preventive antibiotic therapy should last for three to five years after the initial infection. Some researchers recommend that preventive antibiotics be administered until early adulthood.
Aspirin is useful in treating arthritis caused by rheumatic fever. In fact, if arthritic symptoms respond particularly well to aspirin, the diagnosis of rheumatic fever is strengthened.
Rheumatic fever can be prevented entirely if strep infections are diagnosed correctly and antibiotic treatment is initiated within ten days of onset. A severe sore throat that is red and swollen, accompanied by fever and general fatigue, should be examined by a physician and tested for the presence of strep bacteria. Patients diagnosed with strep throat must be sure to take their full course of antibiotics, as incompletely healed infections may also lead to rheumatic fever.
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"Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Rheumatic Fever: Jones Criteria." Journal of the American Medical Association 268, no. 15 (October 21, 1992): 2069.
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