Sore throat is a common disease. However, throat infections due to Streptococcus type A bacteria that are not treated in the future can cause rheumatic fever, which can then lead to deadly rheumatic heart disease.
Be careful if you or your child have a sore throat for more than 2-3 days with high fever, and severe sore throat without other symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and runny nose. This symptom may indicate a type A Streptococcus bacterial infection. If left untreated, over time this infection can cause rheumatic fever.
If not treated properly, serious complications can occur in the form of rheumatic heart disease. This is caused by an inflammatory process that lasts for years.
Beginning of Rheumatic Heart Disease
As mentioned earlier, rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is most common in children aged 5-15 years. Rheumatic fever generally has the following symptoms:
- Joint pain.
- Arthritis or arthritis. Joint pain that can be accompanied by this swelling is often felt in the knees, elbows, wrists, hands, and feet.
- Chest pain.
- Rashes and bumps appear on the skin, these lumps are painless.
- Abnormal body movements, due to a nervous breakdown called Sydenham’s chorea.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever usually occur within 2-4 weeks after suffering from strep throat.
Rheumatic Heart Disease after Rheumatic Fever
In the condition of rheumatic heart disease, there is permanent damage to the heart due to inflammation of rheumatic fever. The part of the heart that is affected includes the heart valve or heart muscle.
Complications of rheumatic heart disease include enlargement of the heart, infection of the heart lining (endocarditis), as well as tear or damage to the heart valve. In more severe cases, heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias), heart failure, pulmonary swelling, and blockage of blood vessels in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) can be dangerous.
Although initially a throat infection is caused by bacteria, rheumatic fever can develop not because of bacteria, but because of the body’s immune response. When the body has a type A Streptococcus bacterial infection, the body’s immune system protects itself automatically by attacking the bacteria again. But sometimes, this immune system also attacks body tissues, such as the heart and joints.
In addition to bacterial infections, family history of having rheumatic heart disease and the environment, for example poor sanitation, are two other factors that can increase one’s risk of developing rheumatic heart disease.
The risk of rheumatic heart disease is actually potentially reduced if Streptococcus type A bacteria can be eliminated immediately by taking antibiotics until they run out. Therefore, when strep throat arrives, it is very important to spend antibiotics when prescribed by a doctor.