Aug 19, 2016

Vasculitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Cures

At Carolina Arthritis, our specialists and doctors treat many different ailments, one of which is vasculitis. Vasculitis refers to an inflammation in the blood vessels.

There are many types of vasculitis, and while most of them are rare, vasculitis can affect just one organ or several. The condition can be short term (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Either way, because the body is filled with blood vessels of all sizes, vasculitis symptoms vary and can cause a range of serious problems.

Causes of vasculitis.

The exact cause of vasculitis isn’t fully understood. Vasculitis is caused when your immune system attacks your blood vessels by mistake. Some types are related to a person’s genetic makeup. This can happen due to an infection, a medication, or another disease or condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, some possible triggers for this immune system reaction can include:

  • Infections, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • Blood cancers.
  • Immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma.
  • Reactions to certain drugs.

It can strike any blood vessels, from the large veins that carry blood to your heart and lungs, to the tiny capillaries that connect your arteries and veins. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Joint pain.
  • A rash on the buttocks or lower legs.

If left untreated, vasculitis can cause serious problems, depending on which blood vessels, organs, and body parts are affected.

Who is at risk for vasculitis?

Vasculitis can affect people of all ages and sexes but occurs most often in people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic hepatitis B or C infections. It can also affect those with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma.

Smokers are also more susceptible to vasculitis, so if you haven’t kicked this habit yet, now is the time!

[Think you may have signs of Golfers vasculitis? Check here for more information!]

How to cure vasculitis.

If vasculitis is caught early, it can be treated and cured. Sometimes, a patient will go into remission, which means that while they no longer suffer from vasculitis symptoms, the condition can be reactivated at any time.

In these cases, it’s crucial to find a doctor you can form a long-term relationship with, who can offer ongoing treatment and monitoring.

At Carolina Arthritis, our treatment plans depend on the type and severity of vasculitis. Because vasculitis is caused, at least in part, by an overly active immune system, suppressing the immune system is an effective form of treatment.

This can range from short steroid courses to aggressive and long-term immune suppression. It’s important to remember that suppressing the immune system can affect your life in other ways, making you more susceptible to other diseases and ailments. For this reason, working with your doctor is extremely important to ensure long-term health and happiness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from vasculitis, make an appointment with Carolina Arthritis today. The sooner we start treatment, the better.