Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is a genetic disorder passed down from parents to children. The disease causes high fevers and bouts of inflammation. Typically, patients experience symptoms during a flare up of the disorder, but not between flare ups. People of Mediterranean decent are more at risk than any other ethnicity.
Who is at Risk?
People of Mediterranean decent are more likely to suffer from FMF than any other ethnicity, particularly Sephardic Jews, Armenians and Arabs.
Unfortunately, symptoms of Familial Mediterranean Fever are similar to that of the common flu. Patients may present with:
- High fever
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Chest pain when breathing
- Pain in the abdomen
- Skin lesions
It is not uncommon for the condition to go unnoticed until children reach 15 years of age. Flare ups typically last two to four days with symptoms peaking halfway through the flare up. While physical symptoms are limited, the lining of the abdominal cavity, joints and skin are inflamed when symptoms occur. This inflammation can cause extreme pain in some cases.
Complications typically occur later in life. Patients may develop gallbladder disease. However, the most common serious complication of FMF is amyloidosis. This condition causes protein to build-up in organs. Colchine, a medication commonly used to treat inflammation, may be prescribed to reduce the risk of amyloidosis.
Doctors will likely order a battery of diagnostic testing to rule out other conditions. Patients may undergo MRI, CT Scan and Xrays. A blood test is required to officially diagnose FMF.
Symptoms of Familial Mediterranean Fever are treated, but the condition cannot be cured. Patients may utilize:
- Fever reducing medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Patients may be prescribed Colchicine. This medication reduces inflammation and may reduce the number and/or severity of future flare ups. It is important to use medications suggested by your doctor to treat symptoms of FMF.
There is no cure for FMF, but patients do not typically suffer a reduced lifespan due to the condition. Symptoms are easily treated with medications. If the condition goes undiagnosed, patients may be at increased risk of earlier death due to high fever and complications of extreme inflammation.