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Pericarditis - Causes and Treatments

Posted Sep 11 2010 12:00am

Pericarditis is a swelling and irritation of the pericardium, which is a thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart. Pericarditis may be acute or chronic. Common symptoms of this condition include a sharp stabbing chest pain which intensifies on lying down; breathlessness while reclining; low grade fever; an overall sense of weakness, fatigue or feeling sick; dry cough; and abdominal or leg swelling. In the majority of patients with pericarditis, there is no known cause for this condition. A few patients may develop this disease after a viral infection, a major heart attack or heart surgery. Trauma, inflammatory disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases like kidney failure, tuberculosis, cancer and AIDS can also cause this condition.

Pericarditis is a swelling and irritation of the pericardium, which is a thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart. Pericarditis may be acute or chronic. Common symptoms of this condition include a sharp stabbing chest pain which intensifies on lying down; breathlessness while reclining; low grade fever; an overall sense of weakness, fatigue or feeling sick; dry cough; and abdominal or leg swelling. In the majority of patients with pericarditis, there is no known cause for this condition. A few patients may develop this disease after a viral infection, a major heart attack or heart surgery. Trauma, inflammatory disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases like kidney failure, tuberculosis, cancer and AIDS can also cause this condition.

Causes

There are many causes of pericarditis, but it is often a complication of a viral infection (viral pericarditis) – usually a gastrointestinal virus, or rarely the flu virus or AIDS. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection (bacterial pericarditis), fungal infection (fungal pericarditis) or parasitic infection (parasitic pericarditis).

Certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma, also can cause pericarditis. Additional causes of pericarditis include injury to the chest such as after a car accident (traumatic pericarditis), other health problems such as kidney failure (uremic pericarditis), tumors, genetic diseases such as Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), or rarely, medications that suppress the immune system.

Pericarditis is a disorder caused by inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac-like covering of the heart. The pericardium has an inner and outer layer with a small amount of lubricating fluid between them. Pericarditis frequently causes a characteristic chest pain that usually compels one to seek medical attention. Pericarditis may be acute or chronic. The sharp chest pain associated with acute pericarditis occurs when the pericardium rubs against the heart's outer layer. It is usually a complication of viral infections, most commonly echovirus or coxsackie viruses. Less frequently, it can be caused by influenza or HIV infection.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of pericarditis is sharp, stabbing chest pain behind the breastbone or in the left side of your chest. Pericarditis occurs in up to 15% of patients who have acute myocardial infarctions. Pericarditis most often affects men aged 20-50, usually following respiratory infections. It can also occur in children, where it is most commonly caused by adenovirus or coxsackie virus. Patients who have suffered a heart attack (myocardial infarction) may develop pericarditis over subsequent days or weeks. Kidney failure caused by the buildup of certain toxins in the body also can lead to pericarditis.

Treatments

Treatment of histoplasmosis depends on the complexity of the disease. Anti fungal treatments are taken to cure the complex cases of acute histoplasmosis and all cases of chronic and disseminated disorders. Mild disease generally cure without treatment & may require only symptomatic measures.

Efficacious treatments are available in the market for even the most complex forms of histoplasmosis. Amphotericin B or itraconazole may be used to treat the disease histoplasmosis. Patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) may need treatment with an anti fungal medication for there long life to prevent further attacks of histoplasmosis.

Natural treatments for Epstein Barr Syndrome include high dose nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, selenium, CoQ10, magnesium and the B complex. Herbs like echinacea, oregano, olive leaf extract and astragalus are commonly used to support the immune and lymphatic system. If the liver and spleen are affected then the herbs red root and milk thistle are traditionally used.

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