Sydenham chorea (SD) is a neurological disorder of childhood resulting from infection via Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS), the bacterium that causes rheumatic fever.
Sydenham chorea is characterised by rapid, irregular and aimless involuntary movements of the arms and legs, trunk, and facial muscles. The condition affects women more than men and usually those between 5 and 15 years of age. Some children with Sydenham chorea have a sore throat several weeks before the symptoms begin, but the the disorder can also strike up to 6 months after the fever or infection has cleared.
The signs of the condition can appear gradually or all at once, and also may include uncoordinated movements, muscular weakness, stumbling and falling, slurred speech, difficulty concentrating and writing, and emotional instability. The random, writhing movements of chorea are caused by an auto-immune reaction to the bacterium that interferes with the normal function of a part of the brain (the basal ganglia) that controls motor movements.
As of now, there is no specific treatment for Sydenham chorea. Those with the mild form of the condition are advised bed rest during the period of active movements is sufficient. Your doctor will prescribe sedative drugs (such as barbiturates or benzodiazepines) when the severity of movements interferes with rest. Antiepileptic medications may also be a part of treatment in some cases. Doctors also recommend penicillin for 10 years (or more) to prevent manifestations of rheumatic fever and reduce complications.
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