rheumatic fever

The Free essays given on our site were donated by anonymous users and should not be viewed as samples of our custom writing service. You are welcome to use them to inspire yourself for writing your own term paper. If you need a custom term paper related to the subject of Health or rheumatic fever, you can hire a professional writer here in just a few clicks.
"The hospital was filled with 90 children and adolescents today, and there was even a waiting list. Almost all of the patients had heart disease and were recovering from 6 months to 1 year after one or more attacks of acute rheumatic fever. We have nowhere else to put them." (Markowitz 3) Much has changed since five decades ago when a doctor wrote the above statement in his medical journal. Rheumatic fever, a complication of Group A streptococcal infections, is found in only a minute amount of children and adolescents today. It has taken over 50 years but we now know many things about this mysterious disease. We are now able to identify the signs and symptoms, potential causes, risk factors, and seemingly effective treatments, based on our short history while living with the disease. Rheumatic fever is often easy to identify because of all of the symptoms which accompany it. Its prime targets are those who are between the ages of 4 and 18. The disease attacks connective tissues like those located in joints. People to be found with rheumatic fever can expect joint swelling in the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. The swelling should go away in about 2 weeks but if it isn't treated right away, other joints can be affected. If a parent suspects that their child has the disease, they should look for a fever, loss of appetite, general ill feeling, mild skin rash on the chest, fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and back, and the most prevalent symptom, a rapid heartbeat, especially while lying down (Davis 56). Although most symptoms disappear within weeks to months, about half the time the disease leaves behind deformed heart valves. These valves won't work properly and will definitely cause limited activities, and maybe even premature death. Scientists have spent a long time trying to pin down exactly what causes rheumatic fever. They have determined that rheumatic fever is caused "by a preceding strep infection, usually in the throat, that occurs 1 to 6 weeks prior to the onset of the child's symptoms." (Wilson 32) Even though this has been found to be true in 95% of all rheumatic fever cases, doctors can't explain the reason for one person getting it over another. They think that it is an autoimmune disorder, which means that when the body produces antibodies to fight the bacteria, they also attack tissues of joints or tissues in the heart. In other words, rheumatic fever is thought to be triggered by an overly active immune system (Blair 87). Doctors and scientists have found a few recurring factors, which may increase a person's risks of getting the disease. Studies have been done over the past 30 years that indicate that genetics may play a part in susceptibility to the disease. Families that have a history of rheumatic fever are more at risk than those who do not. Also, poor nutrition has been linked to rheumatic fever. Poor nutrition was found in twice as many affected children, and therefore has been listed as a risk factor (Graham 142). Increased numbers of infections can be seen in crowded or unsanitary living conditions (Wilson 55). It was probably this fact which caused recent outbreaks of rheumatic fever in military bases in both Utah and Kansas. Of course, the most obvious way to obtain rheumatic fever is to leave streptococcal infections untreated (Davis 67). Once contracted, not much can be done to combat rheumatic fever. Parents can regulate their child's temperature and pulse rate, in addition to using a humidifier. If the patient goes to see a doctor, the doctor may prescribe steroids to reduce the swelling in the joints, diuretics to reduce fluid retention, or antibiotics to fight any loitering strep bacteria (Blair 45). Even with taking these steps, the disease wreaks so much damage on the heart valves that they have to be surgically repaired or replaced with man-made or even animal implants. Patients usually require bed rest for 2 to 5 weeks, but some need months to recover (McGregor 65). Many people who have had the disease experience little or no heart problems. However, a small percentage of patients experience the heart crippling part of the disease. The most destructive effect of rheumatic fever is carditis, "which develops in up to 50% of patients and may affect the endocardium, myocardium, pericardium, or the heart valves. Severe rheumatic carditis may cause congestive heart failure and significant mitral valve and aortic murmurs." (Blair 94) Rheumatic fever will pop up again whenever its victims experience any new strep infections. The American Heart Association recommends that anyone who has experienced rheumatic fever take prophylactic, or preventive, doses of antibiotics (Thomason 76). The amount of time a person should take these is different for each individual patient. Most children take drugs into adulthood to combat any further strep infections. Rheumatic fever has taken its toll on America throughout the years. All in all, rheumatic fever has affected over 1.8 million Americans (Wilson 65). It was at its peak about 40 years ago, and the American people feared there was another epidemic on the horizon. It may be close to gone, but it is not forgotten. 15,000 children and adolescents died in 1950 alone. Even though it has been cut down significantly, rheumatic fever continues to kill about 5,000 people each

Our inspirational collection of essays and research papers is available for free to our registered users

Related Essays on Health

Canadian Quality Of Life Due To Technology

Over the past century, Canada has seen many changes in all aspects of society due to the increasing number of technology. However, the big question is if technology has improved our quality of life. ...

read more
CIA: Crack Importing Agency or How the US Government Started the Crack Trade

For the past decade and a half, the US government has sponsored the "War on Drugs." This has been a massive law enforcement effort aimed at stamping out the flow and use of illegal narcotics. The ...

read more
Feasibility of the Atkins Diet

Abstract Today more than ever, people are tremendously preoccupied with their physical appearance and many go to drastic measures to sculpt and shape their bodies to their personal ideal. To most p...

read more
Everything Anyone Could Possibly know about Dumb Fire Extinguishers

Name: I am poo September 27, 1999 Block 3, Davis Fire Extinguishers There are four different basic types of fire extinguishers. They all are used to put out fires, but each fire extinguisher is ...

read more

AIDS - What's new ? ------------------- Is the message getting through? We already know enough about AIDS to prevent its spread, but ignorance, complacency, fear and bigotry continue to st...

read more

The Effects of HIV Mutations on the Immune System Science C.J. Stimson INTRODUCTION The topic of this paper is the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, and whether or not mutations undergone...

read more