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Pericardial Therapy

Pre-Treatment Guidelines

Because of possible interactions with other drugs, the patient should report any other medications that he or she is taking to a physician prior to undergoing medication treatment for pericarditis. Pregnant women should discuss these treatment methods with their physician because of possible harm to the fetus.
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What To Expect

Several types of medications treat pericarditis, including: 

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen relieve the chest pain and inflammation caused by pericarditis. Colchicine is another medication that reduces inflammation and is very effective.
  • Opioids - Opioids, such as morphine or codeine, relieve intense pain.
  • Corticosteroids - If NSAIDs do not relieve inflammation, corticosteroids such as prednisone, may be prescribed but, in most cases, an effort to avoid steroids is made.

All of the medications that are used to treat pericarditis can have side effects, some minor and some potentially dangerous. Minor side effects include: 

  • Heartburn,
  • Nausea,
  • Constipation,
  • Headache,
  • Dizziness, and
  • Drowsiness.

The patient should report any of the following serious side effects to a physician immediately:

  • Swelling,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Black stool,
  • Confusion,
  • Difficulty breathing,
  • Agitation,
  • Fatigue,
  • Chest pain, or
  • Bloody vomit.
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Post-Treatment Guidelines

The patient should not stop taking these medications without first consulting a physician.  In most cases, patients need to continue to take their medications well after their symptoms are relieved to avoid a relapse of inflammation and symptoms.
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