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What is Serositis?

By C. Martin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Serositis is the medical term for an inflammation of the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen and abdominal organs. The tissues that make up the linings of these body parts are called serous tissues, and they form sacs around these important organs. An additional important function of these tissues is the secretion of lubricating fluid. Symptoms of this condition are usually seen along with others in sufferers of various severe inflammatory illnesses and can cause significant discomfort or pain.

There are a number of diseases in which serositis is a diagnostic or commonly occurring symptom. These include Crohn’s disease, lupus, Familial Mediterranean fever, and juvenile arthritis. All of these are, in large part, inflammatory diseases, and either acute or chronic serositis may be experienced.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of the intestines caused by an autoimmune response. Abdominal serositis is a key symptom of this disease. Sometimes, the condition also results in an inflammation of the lining of the lungs or of the lung sacs.

Inflammation symptoms in lupus commonly take the form of pericarditis, inflammation of the heart membrane, or pleurisy, which is inflammation of the lung sacs. Chest pains are usually experienced in either case. One or both of these types of inflammation are usually seen in nearly half of lupus patients, and they are some of the most important indicator symptoms of the disease, although medical professionals will normally rule out other root causes prior to making a diagnosis.

In Familial Mediterranean fever, inflammation may occur in the lungs, heart, abdomen, or all three. This hereditary disease results in attacks of acute inflammation that may be very painful and can last for several days at a time, usually accompanied by a raised temperature. Abdominal attacks have been known to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis, with resulting unnecessary removal of the appendix.

Juvenile arthritis may be accompanied by symptoms as well. This is usually seen in particular in patients suffering from systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), a painful condition characterized by arthritis with recurrent fever and rashes. In serious cases, internal organs may become inflamed, leading to pericarditis and other serious inflammations.

The treatment of serositis usually depends to a great extent on the underlying disorder of which it is a presenting symptom. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be used, along with pain relief medication, to alleviate the symptoms. In some cases, steroids may be prescribed.

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Discussion Comments

By Fredo — On Jun 10, 2011

@LLcarnats - The serous fluid is used to lubricate muscles so that friction is reduced when the muscles move. It is thicker in how it looks with an appearance like mucus.

By LLcarnats — On Jun 08, 2011

The article mentions an important function of serous tissues being that they secrete lubricating fluid. What is this fluid useful for?

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