Most people don’t associate the word “fever” with something chronic. They think of it in terms of a flu or passing infection.
You’ve heard the phrase: “Feed a cold. Starve a fever.”
Not gonna lie. I learned that from a Garfield comic where he happily face-planted into some lasagna to help his cold.
But for people living with Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), starving themselves isn’t going to make their fevers go away. While the fevers may come and go, you can be assured that they will come back.
FMF typically strikes children and becomes a fun life-long companion. Yes, that was sarcasm.
What treatment, you ask?
It’s called colchicine. Originally used for gout, colchicine is now also used for FMF (and off-label for treating Bechet’s ulcers). Most people find it effective; however there are some limitations. While it stops episodes before they start, colchicine doesn’t do anything for an episode once it starts.
In case you haven’t guessed by it’s name, FMF seems to affect people who have ancestry along the Mediterranean Sea, including:
- Ashkenazi Jews
Somewhat surprisingly, it seems to have a slightly higher prevalence in Asian populations. Who knew?
For children with FMF, colchicine is the recommended treatment. And if it’s taken correctly, they can live a relatively normal life.
But what if your child is one of the 10% who can’t tolerate it? Luckily, treatments blocking interleukin-1 have shown promise. The three most common are:
- anakinra (Kineret)
- canakinumab (Ilaris)
- rilonacept (Arcalyst)
By being proactive and getting on treatment in childhood, many people with FMF can avoid damage to their internal organs. Now, if that’s not a reason to get on treatment, I don’t know what is!