National Geographic : 1943 Jun
Who'd have thought Donald had rheumatic fever? IT WAS SOMETHING of a shock to Donald's par ents when the school physician advised them to have the boy examined by their family doctor for a suspected heart ailment. They took him to the doctor at once, and, sure enough, the examination confirmed a slight im pairment. "What ever could have caused it?" they wanted to know. Under the doctor's questioning, they learned the answer. They recalled that, about a year before, Don ald had been a little below par for a time. His appetite had been poor and he had failed to gain weight. He had complained of fleeting aches in the joints, and a slight fever. After a while in bed, he began to pick up, so they hadn't bothered the doctor. Little did they suspect that he had suf fered from active rheumatic fever, a disease which may affect the heart-especially if there are re peated attacks. Fortunately, the damage to Donald's heart was slight. Now that he had had no fever in months, there was no reason for treating him differently from other children-except in one important re spect: Donald had shown himself susceptible to rheu matic fever, and everything possible should be done to prevent further attacks. His general health and re sistance should be built up and he should be guarded against sore throats and colds. What every parent should know Rheumatic fever causes between 80 and 90 per cent of the heart disease in people under the age of 35. The first attack is most likely to occur be tween the ages of 5 and 14. Sometimes, as in Donald's case, early signs of acute rheumatic fever may be so indefinite that the disease is overlooked. Other cases may be ac companied by inflammation of the joints which become swollen, red and painful, and a fever as high as 103 degrees. Additional signs may be severe nose bleeds, and nodules, or lumps, under the skin. Even though the illness appears mild, a child should be kept in bed as long as any of these signs of infection persist. In most cases, when a child has recovered from rheumatic fever and the disease has been inactive a sufficient time, he can and should engage in normal play and school activities. Parents should continue to be especially watchful to see that he gets sufficient rest, nutritious meals, and culti vates healthful living habits. Furthermore, sick or well, he should be taken to the doctor for peri odic checkups. For additionalinformation about this disease, send for Metropolitan's new free leaflet, 63-N, "About Rheumatic Fever." COPYRIGHT 1943-METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (A MUTUAL COMPANY) tI Frederick H. Ecker, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Leroy A. Lincoln, PRESIDENT 1 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, N. Y.