What is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the blood vessels. It is characterized by a red, swollen, and tender area on the skin. In more severe cases, it can cause damage to other organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart. Uncontrolled vasculitis may even lead to life-threatening conditions such as stroke or heart attack.

Types of Vasculitis

There are many types of vasculitis. Some of the most common include:

  • Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA)
  • Wegener's Granulomatosis (WG)
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN)
  • Behcet's Disease
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome
  • Kawasaki Disease

Causes and Risk Factors for Vasculitis

The exact cause of vasculitis is often unknown, but there are several potential risk factors that increase the chances of developing the condition. These include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Infections, such as hepatitis or HIV
  • Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or medications
  • Smoking
  • Age (more common in adults over 50)

Signs and Symptoms of Vasculitis

The signs and symptoms of vasculitis depend on the type, but may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Stomach problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Skin rash or discoloration
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vasculitis

Vasculitis is diagnosed through physical examination, imaging tests, and lab tests. Treatment involves medications and lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation and reduce the damaging effects of the condition. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged blood vessels.