This is the Secret to a Successful Life with FMF

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.

I think we can learn a lot from Garfield. Source:
I think we can learn a lot from Garfield. Source:

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.

While there is no cure for FMF, there is effective treatment.

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:

  • Greeks
  • Italians
  • 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!

Farrah Fontaine

Farrah Fontaine

As a child, Farrah Fontaine always knew she wasn't normal. Part of her family descends from the ancient Silk Road, which made her stand out in the Great White North. That's why she wants to give voice to the voiceless so they know they're not alone.

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