Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Pericarditis
Pericarditis is a heart disorder characterized by inflammation of the pericardium. It develops suddenly in the body. Symptoms such as burning in the chest, heaviness, sharp or recurring pain in the chest and prickling may occur. In some people, this pain extends to the neck and jaw along with the chest.
Pericarditis resolves on its own in most cases and may be cured by using some home remedies. But the chances of this disease reoccurring are high. In certain cases, this problem can be very painful and last for several weeks or months. In such a situation, people should immediately contact the doctor without ignoring it. Let us know about the causes, symptoms and treatment of pericarditis through this article.
What is Pericardium?
The pericardium is a sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart. This membrane is usually filled with fluid. Normally it contains 50 ml but when more fluid than normal starts forming in this sac, the condition is called pericarditis in medical language. This results in persistent pain in the chest. Apart from this, some other symptoms also appear in this condition.
Causes of Pericarditis
According to doctors, no known causes of pericarditis are clear. However, the main reasons for this are as follows
- Autoimmune disease.
- Heart surgery.
- Any type of viral, bacterial and fungal infection in the pericardium.
- Radiation treatment for cancer.
- Genetic diseases.
- Trauma or heart attack.
- Waste material present in the blood due to kidney failure.
Other risk factors for pericarditis-
The following factors can increase the risk of pericardial disorder:
- High cholesterol.
- Virus infection etc.
Symptoms of Pericarditis
The most common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain. This pain feels like a heart attack and occurs suddenly due to which severe pain arises in the chest. Apart from this, the symptoms of pericarditis also depend on what is causing the patient to have pericarditis which are the following:
- If a person has pericarditis due to an infection, he may experience high fever, chills, or shakiness.
- Persistent chest pain.
- Pain in the shoulders, neck, back and abdomen as well.
- Pain when taking long or deep breaths.
- Difficulty swallowing food.
- Difficulty sitting and bending forward.
Some other rare symptoms of pericarditis are as follows:
- Chest heaviness.
- Anxiety or restlessness.
- Difficulty in breathing while sleeping.
- Worrying too much.
- Swelling in the ankles or feet.
- Dry cough.
- Diagnosis of Pericarditis-To diagnose pericarditis, the doctor first examines the patient's symptoms through which the reasons for pericarditis can be known. On this basis, he advises to conduct several types of tests, which are as follows:
- Physical examination-The doctor examines the patient physically. In this, along with the medical history of the patient, their symptoms are also noted and the doctor may ask the patient some questions related to the heart.
- Imaging test-These tests include X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. These are used to look for the size of the heart and any problems or fluid in the lungs. It is also used to obtain images of other internal organs and to check for signs of infection damage.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)-The doctor may recommend an ECG test to check the heartbeat. Through this test, the heartbeat is monitored to assert the functioning of the heart. It is also used to check for fluid or pericardial effusion around the heart.
- Catheterization-Catheterization is a medical procedure in which a thin, flexible tube, known as catheter, is inserted in a blood vessel of the heart to diagnose constrictive pericarditis.
- Blood tests-Certain blood tests help to detect the presence of any type of bacteria or parasites in the blood causing pericarditis.
- Treatment of pericarditisPericarditis can be treated in several ways because before treating it, it is very crucial to know the cause. When the cause is detected, it can be treated with ease. For example, if the main cause of pericarditis is a bacterial infection, he is treated with antibiotics. In most cases it can be treated with medicines.
- Colchicine-Colchicine is a type of anti-inflammatory drug which helps reduce symptoms and prevent pericarditis from recurring.
- NSAIDs-Over-the-counter Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pericarditis are beneficial for both pain and inflammation. Apart from this, taking ibuprofen or aspirin also provides quick relief.
- Surgery-Surgery is generally considered the last treatment for pericarditis. It is recommended by the doctor when the effect of medicines is not on the health of the patient.
How to prevent Pericarditis?
This condition is not completely curable. Steps can be taken to relieve the symptoms.
Home remedies for Pericarditis
- Reduce alcohol consumption-It is very important to reduce alcohol intake or switch to healthier alternatives. To get rid of alcohol or tobacco, drink water mixed with lemon and mint.
- Control high blood pressure-Reduce sodium intake and eat more nutritious foods and green leafy vegetables. By doing this, the blood pressure remains under control.
- Reduce cholesterol level-Cholesterol levels can be reduced by switching saturated fats (dairy products, biscuits, etc.) for non-saturated fats (olive oil and avocados, nuts).
- Try to reduce stress-Focus on diverting the mind from tense situations and take time to rest. This helps in reducing stress.
- Regular exercise-Walk for an hour every day and add some cardio-related exercise to your daily routine.
When to go to the doctor?
If you suffer from one or more symptoms or signs related to pericarditis, consult your doctor immediately.