Vasculitis

Vasculitis refers to inflammation in blood vessels. Blood vessels range in size from the large aorta to microscopic capillaries and travel throughout almost every tissue in the body.

As a result, vasculitis presents in many different ways and can cause many different problems.

Vasculitis causes changes in the walls of blood vessels, which leads to thickened walls, narrow vessels and reduced amounts of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body’s tissues and organs. The disease can affect only one organ such as the skin, or it can involve several. Although our understanding of the mechanisms driving blood vessel inflammation has increased dramatically since the early descriptions of these syndromes more than 100 years ago, the classification of the different vasculitis manifestations remains a debated topic. Some types of vasculitis are related to a person’s genetic makeup. Other types develop from a body’s immune system attacking blood vessel cells by mistake.

Symptoms of Vasculitis

Concern over the possibility of vasculitis is often raised by varying symptoms, the most common being a pattern of ischemic (decreased blood flow) throughout the body. Other vasculitis signs include:

  • Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or weakness in nerves

How is Vasculitis Diagnosed?

Since vasculitis can be an explosive, but self-limited problem or a life-threatening illness, a prompt and accurate diagnosis is critically important. The diagnosis is based on looking at the whole picture, including findings from the history and physical examination, laboratory, imaging, and often biopsy. There is no substitute for an experienced rheumatologist thinking through the process.

Vasculitis Treatment

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the vasculitis and range from short steroid courses to aggressive and long-term immune suppression. Treatment typically goes through two phases: stopping the inflammation and preventing relapse. Corticosteroid drugs are often used to help control inflammation to the blood vessels. If a patient does not respond to corticosteroids, drugs like cytotoxic or immunosuppressant may be used to kill or decrease the functionality of immune system cells causing the inflammation.

The diagnosis of vasculitis is often a life changing moment and should result in a close working relationship with a doctor familiar with these unusual diseases and the medications required to treat them. At Carolina Arthritis, we want to make sure you understand your condition to the fullest and all possible treatment options. If you or a loved one might be suffering from vasculitis, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.

May 10, 2017

Live Well: Facing Arthritis with Resiliency

facing-arthritis-with-resiliency-healthy-living-tips

  Arthritis is a chronic disease. This means that while there are treatments that can be very effective, there is no cure. For this reason, some people find it difficult to remain strong in the face of a chronic diagnosis. However, many studies have shown that learning how to respond to pain with a positive […]

Read More »

Apr 24, 2017

Do You Know Your Arthritis Lingo?

importance-of-knowing-arthritis-lingo

  If you’re received an arthritis diagnosis, you’re probably feeling a lot of different emotions. Fear, worry, and confusion usually top the list. While fear and worry can be eased with a talented doctor and the right treatment plan, confusion can linger—especially if you’re not familiar with the many medical terms associated with arthritis. In […]

Read More »

Apr 19, 2017

Live Well: Helpful Tips for Healthy Joints

healthy-joints-tips-for-arthritis-patients

  Spring is officially upon us here in Wilmington, NC. Unfortunately for joint pain sufferers, this time of year isn’t always enjoyable because of constant pain and discomfort. Long walks on the beach or wandering around the Farmers Market may not be feasible for someone dealing with joint pain. Our joints endure a lot stress […]

Read More »