HEALTH

Your child’s ignored sore throat could lead to valvular heart disease

Sore throat is a raspy feeling or irritation that may or not be associated with pain occurring on the throat mucosa.

They are mostly caused by a viral or bacterial infection but can also be due to the intake of icy drinks, allergies, swallowing of dry foodstuff, or gastric reflux.

It’s a very common occurrence in children below five years of age and can be categorized as; pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis depending on the part that is affected.

Viral infections are mostly from rhinovirus, coxsackie A virus, and adenovirus, they cause runny nose, nasal blockage or congestion. Bacterial infections are mainly caused by H. influenza, corynebacterium, and Group A Streptococcus bacteria.

Whereas sore throat from a viral infection might resolve on their own, generally within 2 – 4 days, those from a bacterial infection may require treatment with antibiotics. Group A Streptococcus bacterial throat infection, commonly referred to as strep throat, is the most linked with complications.

If left untreated or treated with incomplete antibiotics dosages, strep throat can cause an inflammatory disease called rheumatic fever; it develops within 2 – 4 weeks after a streptococcus throat infection. A single episode or its recurrence can cause permanent scarring and damage to one or more valves of the heart, leading to Rheumatic Heart Disease.

WHO estimates that rheumatic fever occurs in about 325,000 children each year, and about 33.4 million people are currently diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease worldwide, once RHD develops treatment may occur for life and may require valve replacement surgery or valve repair.

Antibiotic treatment, especially with penicillin’s, is vital for the prevention of occurrence of rheumatic fever; hence it’s advisable to visit your primary doctor following a throat infection associated with fever, lymph nodes swelling, or painful swallowing.

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