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Familial Mediterranean fever
Alternative namesFamilial paroxysmal polyserositis; Periodic peritonitis; Recurrent polyserositis; Benign paroxysmal peritonitis; Periodic disease; Periodic fever
DefinitionFamilial Mediterranean fever is an inherited disorder characterized by recurrent fever and inflammation, often involving the abdomen or the lung.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of familial Mediterranean fever is unknown. It usually affects people of Mediterranean ancestry, especially non-Ashkenazi (Sephardic) Jews, Armenians, and Arabs, although people from other ethnic groups can also be affected.
Symptoms usually begin between age 5 and 15. Inflammation in the lining of the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, skin, or joints occurs, along with high fevers that usually peak in 12 to 24 hours. Attacks may vary in severity of symptoms, and people are usually symptom free between attacks.
This disease is very rare. Risk factors include a family history of familial Mediterranean fever or being of Mediterranean ancestry.
Signs and tests
There is no specific test to diagnose this disease. Sometimes analysis of the chromosomes can help. Elimination of other possible diseases by laboratory tests or X-rays will help determine the diagnosis.
Patients with familial Mediterranean fever may have any of the following during an attack:
TreatmentThe treatment for familial Mediterranean fever is treatment of symptoms. Colchicine, a medicine that reduces inflammation, may help during an attack and to prevent further attacks.
Expectations (prognosis)There is no known cure for familial Mediterranean fever. Most people continue to have attacks, but the number and severity of attacks is different from person to person.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms develop to rule out other possible causes and get appropriate treatment. See a pain specialist if there is chronic pain.
Update Date: 7/31/2002Christopher Parsons, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT