Treatment

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

Treatments include:

  • Antibiotics. Your child's doctor will prescribe penicillin or another antibiotic to eliminate remaining strep bacteria.

    After your child has completed the full antibiotic treatment, your doctor will begin another course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence of rheumatic fever. Preventive treatment will likely continue through age 21 or until your child completes a minimum five-year course of treatment, whichever is longer.

    People who have had heart inflammation during rheumatic fever might be advised to take the preventive antibiotic treatment for 10 years or longer.

  • Anti-inflammatory treatment. Your doctor will prescribe a pain reliever, such as aspirin or naproxen (Naprosyn), to reduce inflammation, fever and pain. If symptoms are severe or your child isn't responding to the anti-inflammatory drugs, your doctor might prescribe a corticosteroid.
  • Anticonvulsant medications. For severe involuntary movements caused by Sydenham chorea, your doctor might prescribe an anticonvulsant, such as valproic acid (Depakene) or carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol, 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 might not show up for years. When your child grows up, he or she needs to include the information in his or her medical history and get regular heart exams.

Nov. 01, 2016
References
  1. Gibofsky A. Acute rheumatic fever: Epidemiology and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  2. Gibofsky A. Acute rheumatic fever: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  3. Rheumatic fever. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/miscellaneous-bacterial-infections-in-infants-and-children/rheumatic-fever. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  4. What about my child and rheumatic fever? American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/search/searchResults.jsp?q=rheumatic%20fever. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  5. Gibofsky A. Acute rheumatic fever: Treatment and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  6. Webb RH, et al. Acute rheumatic fever. BMJ. 2015;351:h3443.
  7. Rheumatic fever. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatic-fever/. Accessed July 9, 2016.
  8. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 10, 2016.