Vasculitis affects the walls of the blood vessels. It causes them to become thicker, weaker, narrower, and scarred. The restricted blood flow resulting from this disorder is very dangerous, and can result in organ and tissue damage. The inflammation of the blood vessels may affect a single organ, or attack multiple organs at the same time.
If you suspect that you or someone in your family has vasculitis, contact Arthritis & Osteoporosis Clinic of Brazos Valley today.
What Causes Vasculitis?
Researchers are still studying the exact cause of vasculitis. They believe that some people develop the disorder as a result of a genetic predisposition. Others develop it when their immune system attacks the blood vessels by mistake. Vasculitis has been linked to hepatitis B and C, immune system diseases, adverse reactions to medications, and blood cancers.
Vasculitis can create serious complications depending on the type a person has and the severity of their condition. For example, organ damage may result when blood flow is hampered by inflamed veins and arteries. Blood clots and aneurysms may develop if the vasculitis causes blood vessels to weaken.
Because of the seriousness of vasculitis, people are encouraged to visit their doctor immediately if they feel they have symptoms of this disorder. With proper care and treatment, symptoms can be managed, allowing a person to have a productive and healthy life.
The symptoms of vasculitis change depending on the part of the body that is affected. Most symptoms result from decreased blood flow to the affected area. Standard vasculitis symptoms include
- Weight loss
- Body pains
- Sweating at night
- Skin irritation and rashes
- Weakness, numbness, and other nerve issues
- A weakened or disappeared pulse in a limb
Other symptoms are unique to the type of vasculitis a patient is experiencing. The various types of vasculitis include
- Behcet’s syndrome. This develops when a person’s veins and arteries become inflamed. Symptoms of this disease include lesions on the skin that look like acne, genital ulcers, oral ulcers, and inflammation of the eyes. Behcet’s syndrome usually affects individuals between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.
- Cryoglobulinemia. This disorder produces rashes, a weakening or numbing of the joints, a tingling sensation in the affected parts of the body, and joint pain. Cryoglobulinemia develops when a person has abnormal proteins in their blood. It is linked to hepatitis C infections.
- Kawasaki disease. This disease is most common in children under the age of five. Symptoms of this disease include eye inflammation, fever and rashes.
- Giant cell arteritis. Giant cell arteritis causes inflammation in the arteries in a person’s head. It commonly affects the temples. This infirmity can cause headaches, jaw pain, blurred vision, and in extreme cases blindness. It more commonly affects patients over the age of 50.
Vasculitis symptoms can be controlled with biologics. Biologics are drugs that suppress specific areas of the immune system, so they can be used to target the source of vasculitis flare ups.