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Pericarditis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the pericardium, a thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart. This inflammation can cause chest pain that may feel sharp or stabbing, and it can be exacerbated by deep breaths or coughing. Pericarditis can be caused by various factors, including viral infections, autoimmune conditions, heart attacks, or certain medications.

Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are often the first-line treatment for pericarditis. These medications help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. It’s important for individuals with pericarditis to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions regarding dosage and duration of NSAID use.

In more severe cases or if the condition is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to address the underlying cause. If pericarditis is related to an autoimmune disorder, corticosteroids may be recommended to suppress the immune system’s response and reduce inflammation.

For chronic or recurrent cases of pericarditis, other medications such as colchicine may be used. Colchicine is an anti-inflammatory drug that can help prevent further episodes of pericarditis. It’s typically used in conjunction with other treatments.

In rare instances, pericarditis may lead to complications like pericardial effusion, where excess fluid accumulates around the heart. In these cases, a procedure called pericardiocentesis may be performed. This involves inserting a needle into the pericardial sac to drain the excess fluid, relieving pressure on the heart.

Ongoing follow-up with a healthcare provider is important for individuals with pericarditis, especially if they experience recurrent episodes. Monitoring helps ensure the condition is effectively managed and any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan can be made. With proper care and treatment, most people with pericarditis experience a full recovery and can resume their normal activities.

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