Rheumatic Fever in Adults: Symptoms, Treatment, Effects

Rheumatic Fever in Adults Effects

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory syndrome that is followed after streptococcal throat infection. The infection in the throat is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria.

Rheumatic fever is more common in children between 5 to 15 yrs. In adults it characteristically tends to recur. Adults between 25 to 35 yrs are more vulnerable.

In America and other developed western countries, rheumatic fever is very rare. It is more often present in developing countries.

Two thirds of adults and children, who develop rheumatic fever, have either been inadequately treated or not treated at all for their strep sore throat.

There is a risk of permanent damage to heart valves and heart after an episode of rheumatic fever. Therefore diagnosing and treating rheumatic fever without any delay is very important to reduce heart valve damage.

Following an episode of strep throat, there is a latent asymptomatic period of 10 to 35 days before developing symptoms of rheumatic fever.

Rheumatic Fever Symptoms, Diagnosis in Adults

  • Fever
  • Swelling in joints
  • Red and hot feeling of swollen joints.
  • Pain in joints. Ankle, knee, wrist, hip joint.
  • Nodes underneath the skin.
  • Pain in the chest.
  • Rapid heartbeats (palpitation).
  • Fatigue and breathlessness.
  • Jerks which are uncontrollable. It is also known as Sydenham chorea. It is a late manifestation of rheumatic fever.
  • Heart murmurs on auscultation.

Laboratory diagnosis of rheumatic fever: blood test ESR, ASO titer, C reactive protein, chest radiography may show enlarged heart, ECG and Doppler study to ascertain cardiac involvement.

Rheumatic Fever Treatment

  • Best way is to prevent rheumatic fever. You should pay immediate attention to sore throat, running nose, redness in throat.
  • As the infection is contagious, you should not share dining articles with others. Use separate glasses and cups and plates.
  • Warm salt water gargling and steam inhalation with few drops of eucalyptus oil are helpful in reducing congestion.
  • Dandelion root is known to cleanse the kidney and liver with its diuretic property. This will help to relieve the symptoms of rheumatic fever.
  • Eat food rich in vitamin C. It helps to enhance the immune system to fight the infection.
  • Modern medicine practitioner may give you anti inflammatory and antibiotic medicine to treat symptoms of rheumatic fever.


  1. Joan G. said:

    I had rheumatic fever twice, as a child (age 6 and 11). Now, at age 59 I am experiencing heart palpitations, bouts of high blood pressure spikes (ordinarily, I have very normal BP), severe dizzy spells and, most recently, a blackout while driving. I have been trying to get answers for my symptoms and while at a neurologist’s office the other day, he suggested that perhaps my problems-especially with the blackout-might be heart related. I have strong family history of heart problems. What should I do?

    November 8, 2012
    • PUP said:

      Cardiac evaluation is necessary as there is a strong family history of cardiac diseases. As such at this age, one should get examined to rule out cardiac problems. Also men should check for prostate problems after 50 years. A simple blood PSA test reveals any prostate abnormality in men. Consult a good cardiac physician.

      November 9, 2012
  2. LL said:

    I had rheumatic fever when I was 8. The Doctor said that it has no side effects. I am now 64. This winter I have had 4 bouts with respiratory viruses and infections and had the flu shot. I just had a stress test that has caused me pain in between my shoulder blades, some tightness in upper chest just like I had with the respiratory infection. Could this have anything to do with the rheumatic fever that I had as a child?

    February 13, 2013
    • PUP said:

      Considering your age, the possibility of heart related ailment is much higher. Was the stress test normal? The symptoms that you have narrated may be related to heart problem. However, consult your doctor for correct diagnosis. Rheumatic ailment is less likely.

      February 14, 2013
  3. RI said:

    I have been to three doctors and only after reading this article I believe this is exactly my problem. I had a horrible sore throat about a month ago and now having joint pain, swollen node, and back and neck stiffness. What is the best course of action? Should I go back to the doctor and request a specific test or something?

    December 14, 2014
    • PUP said:

      If you suspect the cause to be rheumatic arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about previous history of sore throat and even fever if it was present. You can do primary blood tests such as ESR and test for rheumatic arthritis factor (RA test). However, besides suspecting RA as one of the reason, there may be many other causes which may present with similar symptoms. Therefore you should always consult your doctor. You can also consult a rheumatologist.

      December 16, 2014
  4. Bee said:

    I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever at 20 and it has been 4 years now. Other than an elevated heart rate sometimes, my only side effects have been fatigue, slight uncontrollable shakes, and chronic joint pain. I started walking with a cane 3 years ago. My ASO levels are almost back to normal but my symptoms have not shown any change.

    I am starting to wonder if I might have some other disease or condition. There is so much conflicting info about how long complications can last and almost everything I have read is about symptoms in children.

    July 13, 2016
  5. Trina said:

    I had rheumatic fever three times when I was 4, 7 and 8 years old. I had severe pain in my joints and could not be touched without screaming. I ended up with a heart murmur. I took penicillin until I was 16 years old. Now I am 55 and have rheumatoid arthritis in knees and now shoulder. I am a very active person but these things have set me back. I was told it is all linked to rheumatic fever as a child. Can this be from that and now that I am older will it cause recurring issues now?

    December 12, 2017
  6. Misty said:

    I was diagnosed with strep after a week of having the flu. The only symptom of strep I had was the scarlett fever rash. I had the rash for 3 days before I realized it could be from strep. I was a little swollen in my joints and very sore also. They gave me a rocephin shot, low dose of steroids, and keflex. 4 days later I was really swelling and had terrible pain in my joints. Went back to the doctor and they swabbed my throat again. I still had the strep bacteria.

    They gave me another rocephin shot, an antihistamine/decongestant/low dose steroid shot, and prescriptions for zythromax, low dose diuretic for swelling, and an antihistamine/decongestant combo. Today marks day 9 after the rash first appeared. I am still really sore in my joints, a little swollen, so fatigued, and my throat feels a little tight. Doctor wantis me to come back this afternoon for blood work and another strep swab. Does this sound like rheumatic fever? Is there anything specific I should ask or make sure they do?

    January 18, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.