I was hoping somebody may be able to offer some advice. I went to my doctor after over three months of progressive arthritic symptoms. They began in my feet - occasional stiffness and soreness which came and went. The pain and muscles stiffness began to move to my hands and arms until most recently it was in most joints. A few days ago I could barely move and it was difficult to even lift a cup, and my body and joints where painful to the touch, felt like they were inflammed and burning although nothing was visible to the eye. I was having slight fever - hot / cold flashes. And a very mild intermittant sore throat - nothing like strep throat or throat infections I have had in the past (I last have strep over a year ago). I was however ill with flu like symptoms three months ago - although this was very brief and lasted two days. I could say these symptoms have been on going for over 6 months although worse over the past three.
I had felt as if my body had aged 20 years in three months and became very concerned. I went to a new doctors surgery as we had just moved into the area and although she didn't ask too many questions she did order full blood and arthritis panel. I received results yesterday from the receptionist that I had strep in my body and my doctor had prescribed 10 days antibiotics and I was to return to have my blood re-checked. However there was no explanation of what this meant although I did ask if I was contagious to which she said no.
My question is what exactly am I being treated for. How did I get strep in my body and if I have been experiencing these symptoms for several months does this mean I have had strep in my body for this long? I have also started noticing chest pain in my left side but I cant be sure if this is due to neck stiffness and back pain, particularly as I haven't been able to leave the sofa for several weeks! I often have to massage it like any sore muscle and again this is intermittent.
As I have very poor health insurance I am wondering if after then ten day course of antibiotics I should wait a week or so to see if symptoms return before rather than run the risk of going back to the doctors to get re-tested, receive the all clear only for symptoms to re-appear and have to pay for another appointment. As my symptoms seem to be coming and going over many months I fear this may happen.
Also I am aware that in some cases of strep in your body you may need ongoing antibiotics - should I ask the doctor about this and how will I know if this is the case. If my next blood test is clear of strep does that mean it is completely gone and I am in the all clear? I guess I am hoping to ask all the relevant questions in my next appointment to reduce the need to keep visiting the doctors surgery as I am unable to afford the frequent visits.
This is the first time I have been concerned about my health in such a way as the symptoms are quite debilitating and the sudden onset and then disappearance of symptoms are confusing. Luckily I work from home so I have spent the past 2 months only having to move from one room to the next to work at my desk! I do not have the energy to carry anything else out!
Any advice as to what questions I should be asking and if it is wise to wait and see if symptoms re-appear before my next blood text would be most appreciative. I am new to this country and so unfamiliar with the health insurance and practices over here so I feel a little out of my depth navigating my way around doctors etc. I also feel a little overwhelmed not being able to see my own family doctor with whom I am familiar.
sounds like you may have developed Rheumatic fever. What happens is if you had cold-like symptoms with sore throat (e.g strep throat) a few months ago and was not treated, the bacteria can dislodge to your blood and give you symptoms of arthritis and even can lodge to your heart. You are being treated for the active strep infection they found in the blood.
When you finish the antibiotics, i would go back to your doctor and have another blood test to make sure the infection has cleared and is not lingering.
if you continue having arthritis symptoms, i would ask your doctor if you should take aspirin or other NSAIDs to help with the symptoms
Hi Col - thank you so much for your email. I was wondering if that may be the case and I will definitely go back to the doctors for the second blood test and ask about this. Unfortunately I my symptoms have gotten much worse since starting the antibiotics and I am waiting to hear back from the doctor regarding the antibiotics they started me on. Although I only had a mild sore throat before taking the antibiotics and the muscle joint pain etc, since starting them I have been bed ridden for three days, developed flu symptoms including bad sore throat and more worrying today a chesty tight cough making it slighlty difficult to breathe. I am waiting to hear if this is normal or just my body fighting infection (which is fine by me) or an adverse reaction to the medication. I am on 875mg AMO TRK CLV for ten days but I swear these symptoms are worse than the ones I was initially treated for!
sounds like your condition has gotten alot worse, I would go back to your doc or another urgent care ASAP or even ER to make sure its nothing serious. This is most likely not an adverse reaction to the medicine and more likely that the infection has progressed. The tight chest cough is what worries me. The Amox/CLV would cover for strep but if you are developing chest tightness i'd be worried if you are developing pneumonia as well which Amox/CLV would not cover.
Thank you again for your post - I do really appreciate your response. I did take your advice and contacted my doctors surgery particularly as I started to notice a rattle on my chest after a few more bouts of coughing.
Unfortunately the doctor that I originally saw was not in the office so I spoke to the nurse and explained the worsening of symptoms, development of new ones and chesty cough and tightness in the chest. She spoke quickly with the on call doctor who said I may just have a cold and to carry on with the antibiotics and come back in Monday if symptoms worsened. So I guess for now I just need to monitor everything but they did agree that it didn't sound like an adverse reaction to the antibiotics which was my main concern. I am happy I can continue on these. I am avoiding lying down for now which seems to make things worse. I am hoping that I will start to see more relief from the antibiotics tomorrow but will go back to see my doctor if things don't settle down over the next few days. Thank you again, I really appreciate your post.
Hi Col301 - I just wanted to update you (as you seem to know a lot more about this than myself or my doctor)! Sunday I found a rash on the inside of my arm (red circular white inside). In retrospect this has been there for a few weeks but hadnt look as pronounced until I got ill over the weekend. I had assumed it was a small area of dry skin. Also I had noticed another one had appeared beside it. The rest of my body seemed to be gradually recovering but I was still left with severe chest pain and I was still having difficulty breathing and my dry cough was still there.
So went to docs today. She told me it sounded like allergies, I mentioned could it possibly be rheumatic fever and she said no. I was then packing up my things and ready to leave when after a few minutes she came back in and said she actually wanted to see if it could be rheumatic fever. She then did another blood test, a 30 second read of of an EKG and a chest x-ray. Everything looked fine with these. As my breathing test (the tube you blow in and it records your breathing) was very low (I think just under 3) she put me on a nebulizer and then re-did the test but my breathing hadn't improved.
Then it got confusing she came in and said they still were not sure, they still thought it was allergies or I just had strep throat but wanted to refer me to rheumatologist and cardiologist. She also prescribed prednisone, took me of the augmentin and instead gave me an injection of penicillin. She told me if this was RF then the injection would cure it.
So I am still confused if this is just strep throat, allergies or indeed RF. I am however much more relieved that my heart seems to be ok from the tests. She said she is waiting to see what my next blood test reveals ( I am not sure what she is looking for in this) but she tells me if will tell us more. In the meantime I guess I will make an appointment with the Rheumatologist and see what they say. Not knowing is the worse part. Again thank you for your advice and suggestions I really appreciate it.
I believe the meds that your family doc prescribed you is very reasonable. Regardless if it really is rheumatic fever or strep causing you these symptoms, the penicillin will take care of both. In addition, the prednisone will help with both your breathing and joint pain.
Its good that you have a rheumatology appointment. Its actually pretty important to rule out rheumatic fever as it is a condition that has many consequences, one of the main worries is damage to heart valves.
Also, in regards to your rash, I would take a picture of it and show it to the rheumatologist, just incase the rash clears up before you get the appointment. It can help them in narrowing the possible diagnosis