July 4, 2011 by Lynn.
Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is a rare, incurable condition caused by an inherited mutation in the MEFV gene. It's speculated that people with this gene mutation can't make a protein called pyrin that's involved in the regulation of inflammation.
FMF is an inflammatory disease, causing repeated fevers and attacks of inflammation, usually in the lungs and abdomen. Its name reflects the fact that it mostly strikes people of Mediterranean ancestry, such as Armenians, Arabs, Turks and Sephardi Jews. FMF occurs more often in males than in females.
Ninety percent of the time, FMS attacks without warning during childhood, usually between the ages of 5 and 15. The lining of the chest cavity, abdominal cavity, skin and/or joints become inflamed, accompanied by a high fever which peaks between 12 and 24 hours. Common symptoms are:
- Recurring chest pain
- Recurring abdominal pain
- Recurring joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Fever (sometimes accompanied by chills)
- Red, swollen skin rashes, especially on the legs
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
FMS is also referred to as periodic peritonitis, periodic disease and paroxysmal polyserositis, and benign paroxysmal peritonitis, among other terms. There is no specific test for FMF, and the diagnosis is usually based on family history, blood tests, x-rays, and possibly genetic testing. Various lab tests may be run to rule out other conditions.
FMF can be severely painful, and sufferers risk becoming addicted to narcotic pain relievers. Some people report that stress or exercise bring on symptoms of FMF. Others find that fatty foods make their symptoms worse. People with FMF are at a higher risk of developing arthritis, gallbladder disease and amyloidosis, a disorder where protein fibers are deposited in tissues or organs.
Women with the condition may have difficulty conceiving, or be more likely to suffer a miscarriage. Those who do become pregnant sometimes experience an improvement in their FMS symptoms, likely related to hormonal changes.
FMF can be successfully treated with the anti-inflammatory medication colchicine. Colchicine is best known as an effective gout medication. Gout is a painful from of arthritis caused by a build up of uric acid in the joints, usually the big toe.
The gout drug colchicine not only relieves a FMF attack, it prevents or minimizes future attacks, and is best taken regularly as a preventative medication. Colchicine has been prescribed long term as a preventive gout medication for many years. Prescription colchicine can also help prevent FMF complications, especially amyloidosis.
Colchicine should be taken with food and a full glass of water to reduce the possibility of side effects. The most common side effects of colchicine include loss of appetite and gastrointestinal upset such as stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of stomach problems.
Less commonly, users may experience numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, hair loss, or purple spots or patches on their skin, caused by the leaking of small blood vessels. Some people experience lactose intolerance when taking colchicine tablets.
Colchicine can be toxic at high doses, so stick to the colchicine dosage recommended by a doctor, and report any colchicine side effects immediately.
Filed under: Familial Mediterranean Fever .
Tags: gout drug, gout medication, prescription colchicine, side effects of colchicine, colchicine tablets, colchicine dosage, familial mediterranean fever, fmf, colchicine side effects.
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