When a strep throat infection is untreated or is not completely treated, it can result in an autoimmune condition called rheumatic fever. This autoimmune response causes inflammation in the body that attacks the joints, heart, skin and central nervous system. Risk factors that may increase the chance of developing rheumatic fever include a genetic predisposition, certain strains of Group A strep bacteria, and poor sanitation.
Group A streptococcus bacteria causes strep throat infections and contains a protein that is similar to proteins found naturally in specific tissues in the joints, heart and skin. Following a strep infection, the immune system continues to target these proteins and begins to attack the healthy tissues of the body resulting in inflammation. Permanent damage to the body, especially to the heart and heart valves, may result without adequate treatment.
Patient will be free from infection; patient will be free from pain; patient will not have permanent tissue damage
Assess and monitor vital signs
Get a baseline to determine effectiveness of interventions. Fever is a primary symptom. Blood pressure and heart rate may be elevated from fever or from involvement of the heart.
Perform complete physical assessment
Provides baseline. Note redness of the skin or rash, swelling of the joints, or presence of subcutaneous nodules.
Assess motor and neurologic function
Patients often have chorea (irregular movements may be noted in the face or extremities and may cause changes in speech)
Assess pain with appropriate pain scale and manage with non-pharmacological routes
FACES and FLACC scales may be used.
Joint pain is most common and may be relieved by applying cool compresses or heat, repositioning or relaxation techniques.
Monitor lab tests
Blood tests may be run, such as C-reactive protein or ESR to determine inflammation.
Monitor for presence of strep antibodies or cardiac enzymes as appropriate.
Obtain ECG and echocardiogram
These tests are used to determine amount of cardiac involvement of the disease. They can detect electrical or functional abnormalities such as faulty valves and help determine course of treatment.
Administer medications appropriately
Provide patient and parent education regarding home care and prevention of future disease or complication
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