National Geographic : 1944 Feb
The doctor talks to Mrs. Roberts about Rheumatic Fever T HE DOCTOR says Jimmy has rheumatic fever. The boy's anxious mother wants to know all about this illness . . . the most serious disease of childhood years. Mrs. R.: Is rheumatic fever catching, doctor? Doctor: Not like measles or chicken-pox, but it seems to run in families. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are its chief victims. The great danger lies in the damage it can do to the heart. Fortunately nowadays the majority of children who receive good medical care are leading normal, useful lives. Mrs. R.: But I didn't notice any unusual symptoms! Doctor: That's just the danger! Early rheumatic fever symptoms are sometimes very slight-a sore throat, a slight fever, nosebleed, poor appe tite . . . perhaps rapid heart action and fleeting pains in muscles and joints. Any of these may or may not mean early rheumatic fever. Mrs. R.: How long will Jimmy have to stay in bed? Doctor: As long as the disease is active. It may be a few weeks, but some cases last for a year or more. The only way to lessen the possibility of damage to Jimmy's heart is complete rest in bed until all symptoms and signs disappear. Mrs. R.: How active can he be when he is able to get up? Doctor: Children can usually resume normal ac tivity gradually. Of course, I will want to ex amine Jimmy at regular intervals, even though he appears well. Mrs. R.: Is he likely to have another attack? Doctor: It's very possible. In fact, this attack shows Jimmy is susceptible to the disease. You can help prevent recurrence by keeping his gen eral health at a high level. He will need to eat well, dress warmly, and get lots of sleep. And since sore throats, colds, and other respiratory infections frequently precede an attack, you must take extra precautions against them. Pro tect him from others who have colds! If he gets a cold, put him to bed immediately . . . and let me know. Doctors hope that it will not be long before there are surer ways to prevent recurrences. Medical experiments are now being made with small, reg ular doses of certain drugs for this purpose. These drugs seem to show great promise, but should be used only under the direction of a physician. For additional information, send for Metro politan's free booklet, 24-N, entitled, "About Rheumatic Fever." COPYRIGHT 1944-METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (A MUTUAL COMPANY) Frederick H. Ecker, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD A Leroy A. Lincoln, PRESIDENT 1 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK 10, N. Y.