Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The goals of treatment for rheumatic fever are to destroy any remaining group A streptococcal bacteria, relieve symptoms, control inflammation and prevent recurring episodes of rheumatic fever.

Treatments used for rheumatic fever include:

  • Antibiotics. Your child's doctor will prescribe penicillin or another antibiotic to eliminate any remaining strep bacteria that may exist in your child's body.

    After your child has completed the full antibiotic treatment, your doctor will begin another course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence of rheumatic fever. This preventive treatment usually continues until your child is at least 21 years old. If an older teenager has had rheumatic fever, he or she may continue taking the antibiotics past age 20 to complete a minimum five-year course of preventive treatment.

    People who experienced inflammation of the heart when they had rheumatic fever may be advised to take the preventive antibiotic treatment much longer or even for life.

  • Anti-inflammatory treatment. Your doctor will prescribe a pain reliever, such as aspirin or naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), to reduce inflammation, fever and pain. If symptoms are severe or your child isn't responding to the anti-inflammatory drugs, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid, such as prednisone.
  • Anticonvulsant medications. If the involuntary movements of Sydenham chorea are severe, your doctor may prescribe an anticonvulsant, such as valproic acid (Depakene) or carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, others).

Long-term care

Discuss with your doctor what type of follow-up and long-term care your child will need. Heart damage from rheumatic fever may not show up until many years after the acute illness. Your child should be informed that he or she had rheumatic fever and when an adult should discuss this with his or her doctor.

Feb. 18, 2014