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Pericarditis is an inflammation of the thin sac that surrounds the heart called the pericardium. This condition can cause or fluid to build-up in the pericardium compressing the heart and affecting its function. It can also cause pain as the inflamed pericardium rubs against the heart.

Common symptoms of pericarditis include:

• Fever
• Chills
• Anxiety
• Fatigue
• Sweating
• Dry cough
• Pain with swallowing
• Occasional swelling of the abdomen, feet, ankles, or legs
• Sharp pain behind the breastbone that increases when taking deep breaths

There are several risk factors for developing pericarditis, including:

• Injury to the chest
• Heart attack or heart surgery|
• Medications that suppress the immune system
• Infection from a virus, bacteria, fungus, or tuberculosis
• Diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, kidney failure, HIV/AIDS infection, leukemia and autoimmune disorders

Antibiotics are generally prescribed if the pericarditis is due to a bacterial infection. Additional medications to relieve pain and inflammation, such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, may be prescribed, as well. In addition, bed rest is usually necessary.

See your doctor for specific treatment options for pericarditis.

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