Pericarditis means inflammation of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that covers the outside of the heart. Pericarditis is often acute, meaning that it develops suddenly and lasts only a couple months. Pericarditis is usually caused by an infection, although injury, kidney failure, certain genetic conditions, and autoimmune diseases (where the body’s defense system attacks itself) can sometimes cause pericarditis. Chest pain is the most substantial symptom of pericarditis, though pain in the back and neck, difficulty breathing, dry cough and fatigue may also occur. A physician can diagnose pericarditis by asking questions and performing a physical exam. Blood tests may be performed to detect infections that might have contributed to pericarditis. Imaging tests, such as a chest x-ray, may also be done. Mild cases of pericarditis may get better without any treatment, however usually medication to reduce swelling and inflammation, such as ibuprofen, is prescribed.