Our expert says:
I am sorry to hear that your child is ill. Rheumatic fever is a consequence of a particular throat infection. These days, most GP’s will prescribe antibiotics for a bad throat infection for this very reason: to prevent Rheumatic fever.
While your child is ill, she must obviously take it easy. She must be seen by a paediatrician – not just a GP - until she is over the acute phase. If she has a severe case, she may display signs of heart (valve) problems soon, and your paediatrician will guide you through the warning signs for this. But please note that she will not NECESSARILY develop heart problems. Usually valve problems arising from Rheumatic fever take many years to reach a stage where they interfere with normal activities. You will thus need to be fully informed about what to expect and look out for in the future. Until then, she should be able to lead a normal life. Be on the lookout for abnormnal tiredness or recurrent fevers – have her seen by her doctor if this persists.
PLEASE NOTE THIS: You must get a very clear instruction from your paediatrician regarding valve problems. Your daughter will need to be checked regularly for this – BY A PAEDIATRICIAN - because if there is any valve damage, no matter how small, she MUST HAVE ANTIBIOTIC PROPHYLAXIS BEFORE ANY SURGICAL OR DENTAL WORK. I cannot emphasis this enough. Without the correct antibiotic cover – prescribed by a specialist, not a GP – she could develop Infective endocarditis, with disastrous results.
Rita, whilst this is a condition to take very seriously, provided you do the right things, and have your child in the care of a paediatrician who will see her perhaps once a year ( or however often the specialist thinks is necessary), she should do well, and have a normal childhood. If you are in any way worried, in the future, do not hesitate to take her to a specialist. You will not be over-reacting. Far better to be told you have nothing to worry about than to play it down and have her become really sick.
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