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Vasculitis is a term for a group of rare diseases that cause inflammation in blood vessels, including arteries and veins. The inflammation can cause the walls of the blood vessels to thicken. It reduces the width of the passageway and restricts the blood flow, which can result in organ and tissue damage.

While vasculitis can affect anyone, few of its types only affect certain groups of people. There are many types of vasculitis, and all of them differ in symptoms, severity and duration. Most types of vasculitis are rare, and their causes are usually not known. Its common types are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Behcet's disease
  • Buerger's disease
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Takayasu's arteritis

Some of these only affect just one organ while others affect several. They can be short term or long-lasting, which is why you have to consult with experts at first sight of its symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of most types of vasculitis are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • General aches and pains

In some cases, other signs and symptoms may also occur depending on the parts of the body affected, including:

  • Digestive problems: Vasculitis can also affect your stomach or intestines that may cause pain after eating or blood in the stool.
  • Hearing problems: Dizziness, ringing in the ears, and partial hearing loss can also be caused by vasculitis.
  • Visibility: Vasculitis can cause redness and itching in the eyes leading to double vision and temporary or permanent blindness in one or both eyes. 
  • Weakness: Some types of vasculitis can also cause numbness or weakness in a hand or foot. 
  • Breathing problems: It may also affect your lungs, causing shortness of breath or even blood in the cough.
  • Skin problems: Vasculitis can also cause lumps or open sores on your skin.

Causes & Risk Factors
The exact cause of vasculitis is unknown, but some possible triggers may lead to this disease. Factors that may increase the risk of certain disorders include:

  • Age. Giant cell arteritis usually occurs in people above the age of 50. However, Kawasaki disease usually affects children younger than five years old.
  • Family history. Some types of vasculitis like Behcet's disease, polyangiitis and Kawasaki disease often run in families.
  • Lifestyle choices. Smoking tobacco can also increase your risk of Buerger's disease.
  • Medications: Some medications like hydralazine, allopurinol, minocycline and propylthiouracil can also trigger vasculitis.
  • Immune disorders: Some disorders can trigger the immune systems to mistakenly attack the body and lead to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.

Your doctor will start by taking your medical history and then perform a physical exam. They may also order additional diagnostic tests and procedures to either rule out other conditions and diagnose vasculitis. These tests can include:

  • Blood tests: They will order blood tests to identify a high level of C-reactive protein and look for specific antibodies — such as the anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) test — to diagnose vasculitis.
  • Imaging tests: They may also order imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to determine which blood vessels and organs are affected by vasculitis.
  • Angiography: During this procedure, they'll insert a flexible catheter into the affected artery or vein to outline the affected blood vessels on X-rays.
  • Biopsy. The doctor removes a small tissue sample from the affected area and then examines this tissue for signs of vasculitis.

Treatment for vasculitis often focuses on controlling the inflammation and managing any underlying condition. Hence, your doctor may recommend:

  • Medications: The doctor usually prescribes corticosteroid drugs like prednisone to control the inflammation associated with vasculitis.
  • Other medications may also be prescribed with corticosteroids to control the inflammation more quickly. However, the specific medications may depend on the type and severity of vasculitis, which organs are involved, and any other medical problems.
  • Surgery: In some cases, vasculitis may also cause an aneurysm in the wall of a blood vessel. Hence, doctors may also perform surgery to reduce the risk of rupturing or restore blood flow to the affected area.

Why Eternal Hospital?
At Eternal Hospital, we have a highly qualified and dedicated team of urologists who are always committed to providing the latest and most advanced medical care to all our patients. Being a trusted name in healthcare, we act compassionately while ensuring confidentiality to those who need it. We have set high standards in patient-centric premium care and outstanding patient safety, and exceptional maintenance in a timely manner. In addition, we adhere to the use of up-to-the-minute innovations to offer state-of-the-art treatments to our patients with unparalleled results.

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