Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
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Rheumatic fever Ayurvedic treatment


Rheumatic fever is considered as an inflammatory disease that generally develops as a complication of inadequately treated throat infection. This throat infection is typically an infection caused by a bacteria of the class streptococcal bacteria (known as group A streptococcus bacteria).  The condition is also called as Scarlet fever.1

Rheumatic fever is a serious condition as it can cause permanent damage to the heart, such as damage to the heart valves and can also lead to heart failure. Correct treatment can reduce tissue damage from inflammation, lessen the pain and other symptoms, and also prevent the recurrence of rheumatic fever.1

According to Ayurveda, Rheumatic fever is classified as Amavata jwara. The word Ama refers to undigested matter that forms toxins. When people with a sedentary lifestyle coupled with low digestion/metabolism, indulge in incompatible diet, or physical exertion after taking fatty food, the ama (toxic matter) is formed. This ama is fueled by unbalanced vayu & reaches the site of kapha. The amrasa (Ras dhatu – tissues- contaminated with ama) on being completely processed & highly vitiated by vata,pitta and kapha, circulate the body through the vessels and causes symptoms such as aches, fever etc, of amavata jwara.2


Rheumatic fever


Usually rheumatic fever occurs after an infection of the throat with the Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus bacteria. Infections of the skin or other parts of the body with group A streptococcus, rarely trigger rheumatic fever. The exact link between strep infection and rheumatic fever isn't clear, but it appears that the bacterium is involved in some changes in the immune system causing the symptoms.1


Rheumatic fever


The signs and symptoms of Rheumatic fever — which result from inflammation in the heart, joints, skin or central nervous system — may include1:

  • Fever
  • Painful and tender joints — most often the ankles, knees, elbows or wrists; less often the shoulders, hips, hands and feet
  • Shifting pain – from one joint migrating to another
  • Swollen joints with redness
  • Many small, painless nodules beneath the skin
  • Pain in chest
  • A heart murmur
  • Fatigue
  • Skin shows flat or slightly raised, painless rash with a ragged edge (erythema marginatum)
  • A typical uncontrollable body movements, called jerks (Sydenham chorea or St. Vitus' dance) — most often in the hands, feet and face
  • Sudden unusual behavior, such as crying or inappropriate laughing, that accompanies Sydenham chorea1


Rheumatic fever


A diagnosis of rheumatic fever is based on a physical examination and some test results. 1

The following physical examination are performed by doctors1 -

  • Checking the joints for signs of inflammation
  • Examining for fever
  • Examining the skin for nodules under the skin or a rash
  • Listening to the heart for abnormal rhythms, murmurs or muffled sounds that may indicate inflammation of the heart
  • Simple movement tests to detect any indirect evidence of inflammation of brain

Additionally, certain blood tests to detect Streptococcal infections, an ECG or echocardiography may be required to check is the heart is getting affected.1


Rheumatic fever


For a streptococcal infection, antibiotics are required and should be taken under doctor’s supervision.

Ayurveda advocates shaman (suppressive) and shodhana (expelling) chikitsa with the use of several herbal formulations and Panchkarma procedures.3

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • A light but nutritious diet is recommended.
  • Foods that improve immunity such as a wholesome diet should be followed.
  • Foods that are high in fat must be avoided.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Adequate to complete bed rest is advised.


Rheumatic fever
  1. How is sinusitis caused? Does it have anything to do with cold foods?

Sinusitis is basically an inflammation of the membranes of para-nasal sinuses or the group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity. Colds, bacterial infections, allergies, asthma and other health conditions can cause sinusitis, or inflammation of the para-nasal sinuses.

In some people, cold foods may flare the condition and aggravate the allergies resulting in sinus problems. Such people should avoid eating cold foods.

  1. What are symptoms of Asthma? How do I know if someone may have asthma?

Symptoms of Asthma differ from person to person. Some may have infrequent asthma attacks, some have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or some have symptoms all the time. 

Asthma signs and symptoms include-

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
  1. My reports show a low platelet count, do I have dengue?

Diagnosing dengue fever can be difficult, because its signs and symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases — such as malaria, chikungunya, leptospirosis and typhoid fever.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical and travel history. Be sure to describe any contact you may have had with mosquitoes. Certain laboratory tests can detect evidence of the dengue viruses, but test results usually come back too late to help direct treatment decisions. A low platelet count is generally seen in dengue but is not the only isolated finding. Fever, body-ache, skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever and minor bleeding accompanied by low platelet count is conclusive of Dengue.

  1. How does one contract typhoid? 

Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria called S. typhi. This bacteria spreads through ingestion of contaminated food or water, and occasionally through direct contact with someone who is infected. In developing nations, where typhoid fever is endemic, most cases result from contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. The majority of people in industrialized countries pick up typhoid bacteria while traveling and spread it to others through the fecal-oral route or contamination of food and drinking water with fecal contact that may occur due to flies, etc.

This means that S. typhi is passed in the feces and sometimes in the urine of infected people. You can contract the infection if you eat food handled by someone with typhoid fever who hasn't washed hands carefully after using the toilet. You can also become infected by drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.

  1. Can malaria only spread from mosquitoes?

Although the commonest cause of malarial fever is due to a bite by the infected female anopheles mosquito, this is not necessarily the only way one can be affected. 

Because the parasites that cause malaria affect red blood cells, people can also catch malaria from exposures to infected blood, including:

  • From mother to unborn child
  • Through blood transfusions
  • By sharing needles used to inject drugs
  • Organ transplants
  1. Does yellowness of eyes always mean there is a liver problem?

In some people who eat large amounts of food rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots, squash, and some melons), their skin may look slightly yellow, but their eyes do not turn yellow. This condition is not jaundice and is unrelated to liver disease.

Yellowness of the eyes is usually due to the leaked bilirubin pigment in the blood stream. This is called jaundice and most probably occurs in cases of liver inflammation. Such patients will also have a visible yellowness of skin.

  1. How does one get elephantiasis? 

Elephantiasis is basically swelling of the lymph glands due to an infection. The disease spreads from person to person by mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person's blood enter and infect the mosquito. People get lymphatic filariasis from the bite of an infected mosquito. The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin, and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessels they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about 5–7 years. The adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms, called microfilariae, into the blood. People with the worms in their blood can give the infection to others through mosquitoes.

  1. What is the difference between Pneumonia and Pneumonitis?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

Pneumonitis on the other hand, is a general term that refers to inflammation of lung tissue. Although pneumonia is technically a type of pneumonitis because the infection causes inflammation, most doctors refer to other causes of lung inflammation when they use the term "pneumonitis”.

Factors that can cause pneumonitis include exposure to airborne irritants at your job or from your hobbies. In addition, some types of cancer treatments and dozens of drugs can cause pneumonitis.

  1. Is rheumatic fever same as rheumatoid arthritis?

They are different. Rheumatic fever occurs after an infection of the throat with a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A streptococcus. Group A streptococcus infections of the throat cause strep throat or, less commonly, scarlet fever. Group A streptococcus infections of the skin or other parts of the body rarely trigger rheumatic fever. The exact link between strep infection and rheumatic fever isn't clear, but it appears that the bacterium ‘plays tricks’ on the immune system.

Rheumatic fever usually occurs in younger population especially children while rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammation of the body that mostly affects the joints in adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that certain cells of the immune system do not work properly and start attacking healthy tissues — especially the joints. The one that affects young children is called stilts disease.

  1. Every time I touch cold water I get these spots on my skin. There is no other complaint. Is this because of some allergy to water?

You may have a condition called Urticaria. It is a skin reaction that causes red or white itchy spots on the skin. There is a type of Urticaria called cold urticaria, in which skin that has been in contact with cold develops reddish, itchy spots. The severity of cold urticaria symptoms varies widely. Some people have minor reactions to cold, while others have severe reactions. Swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a whole-body (systemic) reaction.


Rheumatic fever
  1. Mayo clinic. Rheumatic fever. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatic-fever/basics/definition/con-20031399 accessed Aug 31st 2016
  2. Guha A. "Ayurvedic Approach to Rheumatologic Disorders" (2007). SoM Articles. Paper 26. Available at http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/som_articles/26. accessed Aug 31st 2016 
  3. Singh SV et al. Clinical Study On Amavata With Special Reference To Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis By Pippali Vardhamana Rasayana. World J Pharm Res. 2014; Vol. 3(4): 1176-88

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