FAMILIAL MEDITERRANEAN FEVER
F
blood. The condition shows an auto-
somal dominant pattern of inheritance
(see
genetic disorders
) .
Raised levels of cholesterol in the
blood lead to the early development of
atherosclerosis
(an accumulation of fatty
deposits on the inner walls of the arter-
ies),
coronary artery disease,
and other
vascular
diseases. Treatment, w hich must
continue long term, is with
lipid-lower-
ing drugs
,
including
statins
,
along with a
diet that is low in cholesterol and a
weight-reduction regime.
familial Mediterranean fever
An inherited condition that affects cer-
tain Sephardic Jewish, Armenian, and
Arab families. The
cause
of familial
Mediterranean fever is unknown. Symp-
toms usually begin between the ages of
five and 15 years, and include recurrent
episodes of fever, abdominal and chest
pain, and arthritis. Red skin swellings
sometimes occur, and affected people
may also suffer from psychiatric prob-
lems. Attacks usually last from 24 to 48
hours
but
may
be
longer.
Between
attacks there are usually no symptoms.
Although there is no specific treat-
ment for familial Mediterranean fever,
those known to suffer from the condi-
tion
can
reduce
the
incidence
of
attacks by taking
colchicine
,
a drug that
is usually used to treat gout. Death may
eventually occur from
amyloidosis
,
a
complication of the condition.
familial screening
Screening of a family in w hich one
member is affected by an inherited
disorder. Looking for evidence of in -
creased susceptibility to a disorder may
involve
testing
for
a
specific
gene
defect (as is the case for
cystic fibrosis
),
w hich w ill also help specialists deter-
mine the chances of family members
having an affected child.
Alternatively, tests may be carried
out to detect a risk factor for a disor-
der; for example, if a person has a
heart attack at an early age, his or her
relatives
may
be
tested
for
hyper-
lipidaemia
(high levels of fats in the
blood), a condition that increases the
risk of
coronary artery disease
.
In addition to being tested for a
particular disorder, the relatives of an
affected person may be offered regular
check-ups so that any abnormal signs
may be detected as early as possible
and the
necessary
treatment started
without any delay.
family planning
The deliberate limitation or spacing of
births. Strategies for family planning
include the different methods of
con-
traception
.
(See also
birth control
. )
family therapy
A form of
psychotherapy
,
designed to
help
someone
w ith
mental
health
problems, that is aimed at the whole
family rather than just the individual
sufferer. The therapist arranges regular
meetings w ith the family to encourage
discussion and understanding and to
find out what feelings lie behind the
way family members deal w ith each
other in everyday life. The main theory
behind family therapy is that im prov-
ing the functioning of the family unit
w ill benefit the individual’s health.
famotidine
An
H
2 receptor antagonist
drug that pro-
motes
healing
of
peptic ulcers
and
reduces inflammation of the oesopha-
gus (see
oesophagitis
) .
Famotidine acts
by suppressing production of stomach
acid. Side effects are uncommon, but
may include headaches and dizziness.
Fanconi’s anaemia
A rare type of aplastic anaemia (see
anaemia, aplastic
)
in w hich the bone
marrow, w hich norm ally makes all of
the
types
of blood
cells,
produces
abnormally low numbers of the cells.
Fanconi’s syndrome
A rare kidney disorder that usually
occurs in childhood. In Fanconi’s syn-
drome, various important chemicals,
such as
amino acids
,
phosphate
,
calcium
,
and
potassium
,
are lost in the urine.The
results of these losses include failure to
thrive, stunting of growth, and bone
disorders such as
rickets.
Possible causes include several rare
inherited abnormalities of body chem-
istry and an adverse reaction to certain
drugs,
such
as
tetracycline
that
has
passed its “use-by” date.
If an underlying chemical abnormal-
ity is detected and can be corrected,
the affected child may resume normal
growth. Alternatively, a
kidney transplant
may be possible.
fantasy
The process of imagining events or
objects that are not actually occurring
or present. The term also refers to the
mental image itself.
Fantasy can give the illusion that w ish-
es have been met. In this sense, it
provides
satisfaction
and
can
be
a
means of helping people to cope when
reality becomes too unpleasant. Fan-
tasy can also stimulate creativity.
Psychoanalysts believe that certain
fantasies are unconscious and represent
prim itive instincts; these fantasies are
presented to the conscious m ind in the
form of symbols.
farmer’s lung
An occupational disease affecting the
lungs of farm workers. Farmer’s lung is
a type of allergic
alveolitis
,
in w hich
affected people develop
hypersensitivity
(an excessive reaction of the immune
system)
to certain moulds or fungi
that grow on hay, grain, or straw. The
causative organisms thrive in warm,
damp
conditions, and outbreaks are
most common in areas of high rainfall.
SYMPTOMS
Symptoms typically develop about six
hours after exposure to dust contain-
ing
fungal
spores.
They
include
shortness of breath, headache, fever,
and muscle aches. In acute attacks, the
symptoms last for about a day. Repeat-
ed exposure to spores may lead to a
chronic form of the disease, causing
permanent scarring of lung tissues.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Diagnosis of farmer’s lung may involve
a
chest X-ray
;
pulmonary function tests
;
and blood tests for a specific
antibody
to the fungus.
Corticosteroid drugs
relieve the symp-
toms of the condition. Further expo-
sure to the spores of the fungus should
be avoided. Complete recovery is likely
if the disease is diagnosed before per-
manent
lung
damage has
occurred.
(See also
fibrosing alveolitis
. )
farmer’s skin
Premature aging of the skin caused by
prolonged exposure to sunlight. Fea-
tures of farm er’s skin include a lack of
elasticity, w rinkling, dryness, thinning
(sometimes w ith thicker areas), and
excessive skin pigmentation.
fascia
Fibrous
connective tissue
that surrounds
many structures in the body. One layer
of the tissue, known as the superficial
fascia, envelops the entire body just
beneath the skin. Another layer, the
deep fascia, encloses muscles, forming
a sheath for individual muscles and
298
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