Author: Nathan Kiskila, MD

Vasculitis, also called angiitis, is a general term for several conditions that cause inflammation in your blood vessels. Vasculitis can cause vessel walls to thicken and narrow, cutting of vital blood supply to tissues and organs in your body. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease, which means the body comes under attack by its own immune system. In vasculitis, the immune system attacks blood vessels. 

There are many types of vasculitis, and most of them are rare. Vasculitis might affect just one organ, or several. The condition can be short term or long lasting. Vasculitis can happen to anyone, though some types are more common among certain age groups. Some may improve without treatment, but most require medications to control the inflammation and prevent flare-ups. The exact cause of vasculitis is still undetermined. Some types are related to a person’s genetic makeup, and others result from the immune system attacking blood vessel cells by mistake.

Symptoms of vasculitis include:
– Fever
– Weight loss
– Headache
– Night sweats
– General aches and pains in the joints

Other signs and symptoms are related to the parts of the body affected, including:
Digestive system: If your stomach or intestines are affected, you may experience pain after eating. Ulcers and perforations are possible and may result in blood in the stool.
Ears: Dizziness, ringing in the ears and abrupt hearing loss may occur.
Eyes: Vasculitis can make your eyes look red and itch or burn. Giant cell arteritis can cause double vision and temporary or permanent blindness in one or both eyes. This is sometimes the first sign of the disease.
Hands or feet: Some types of vasculitis can cause numbness or weakness in a hand or foot. The palms of the hands and soles of the feet might swell or harden.
Lungs: You may develop shortness of breath or even cough up blood if vasculitis affects your lungs.
Skin: Bleeding under the skin can show up as red spots. Vasculitis can also cause lumps or open sores on your skin.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Some types of vasculitis can worsen quickly, so early diagnosis is the key to getting effective treatment.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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