Definition

What is familial Mediterranean fever?

Familial Mediterranean fever is an inflammatory disorder that causes recurrent fevers and painful inflammation of your abdomen, lungs and joints.

How common is familial Mediterranean fever?

Familial Mediterranean fever is an inherited disorder that usually occurs in people of Mediterranean origin — including Sephardic Jews, Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Armenians and Turks. But it may affect any ethnic group. Familial Mediterranean fever affects males and females in equal numbers, although some studies suggest a slight male prevalence.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of familial Mediterranean fever?

The common symptoms of familial Mediterranean fever are:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Achy, swollen joints
  • Constipation followed by diarrhea
  • A red rash on your legs, especially below your knees
  • Muscle aches
  • A swollen, tender scrotum

Between attacks, you’ll likely feel normal. Symptom-free periods may be as short as a few days or as long as several years.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes familial Mediterranean fever?

Familial Mediterranean fever is caused by a gene mutation that’s passed from parents to children. The gene mutation causes problems in regulating inflammation in the body.

In people with familial Mediterranean fever, the gene mutation occurs in a gene called MEFV. Many different mutations in MEFV are linked to familial Mediterranean fever. Some mutations may cause very severe cases, while others may be milder.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for familial Mediterranean fever?

There are many risk factors for familial Mediterranean fever, such as:

  • Having a family history of the disease. If you have a family history of familial Mediterranean fever, your risk of the disease is increased.
  • Being of Mediterranean ancestry. If your family can trace its history to the Mediterranean region, your risk of the disease may be increased. Familial Mediterranean fever can affect any ethnic group, but it may be more likely in Sephardic Jews, Arabs, Italians, Armenians and Turks.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is familial Mediterranean fever diagnosed?

Tests and procedures used to diagnose familial Mediterranean fever include:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor may ask you about your signs and symptoms and conduct a physical exam to gather more information.
  • Review of your family medical history. A family history of familial Mediterranean fever increases your likelihood of developing the condition because this genetic mutation is passed from parents to their children.
  • Blood tests. During an attack, blood tests may show elevated levels of certain markers that indicate an inflammatory condition in your body. An elevated level of white blood cells, which fight infections, is one such marker.
  • Genetic testing. Genetic testing may determine if your MEFV gene contains a mutation that is associated with familial Mediterranean fever. Genetic tests aren’t advanced enough to test for every gene mutation that’s linked to familial Mediterranean fever, so there is a possibility of false-negative results. For this reason, doctors typically don’t use genetic tests as the sole method of diagnosing familial Mediterranean fever.

How is familial Mediterranean fever treated?

There’s no cure for familial Mediterranean fever. However, treatment can help prevent signs and symptoms.

Medications used to control signs and symptoms of familial Mediterranean fever include:

  • This drug, taken in pill form, reduces inflammation in your body and helps prevent attacks. Work with your doctor to determine the best dosing strategy for you. Some people take one dose a day, while others need smaller, more-frequent doses. Common side effects include bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  • Other drugs to prevent inflammation. For people whose signs and symptoms aren’t controlled with colchicine, other medications that control inflammation may be options, though these treatments are considered experimental. Other medications include rilonacept (Arcalyst) and anakinra (Kineret).

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage familial Mediterranean fever?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with familial Mediterranean fever:

  • Learn about familial Mediterranean fever. Find out enough about familial Mediterranean fever so that you feel comfortable making decisions about your child’s care. Ask your doctor for good sources of information to get you started.
  • Find someone to talk with. Talking to a family member, trusted friend, or a counselor or therapist can allow you to express your fears and frustrations. Some people also find support groups helpful because members truly understand what you’re going through. Ask your doctor if there is a support group for people affected by familial Mediterranean fever in your area.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: November 10, 2017 | Last Modified: November 10, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.