Vasculitis

Your cardiovascular system and blood vessels have a lot of responsibility. In order to keep all your vital organs working, your blood vessels must carry blood, and therefore oxygen, to them. As your heart beats it pumps blood out into the blood vessels and this job is done. But if your blood vessels become restricted by blockages, decreases in size, weakening and thickening walls, then the amount of blood that can move through your system will be severely compromised and as a result, so will your organs, heart and life. Vasculitis is one of the conditions that can cause this kind of compromise.

Definition of Vasculitis
Vasculitis is really as simple as an inflammation that is experienced by your blood vessels. It is caused by an attack on your blood vessels by your own body. Unfortunately, when looking for the root cause of vasculitis it is often impossible to know exactly why it is happening, but it is usually caused by cancer, disorders of the immune system, infections or allergic reactions.

When your blood vessels become inflamed due to vasculitis the walls of the vessels begin to develop further and become very thick. As they thicken on the inside the passage that blood flows through becomes more and more narrow which means your blood flow begins to be severely compromised. On occasion, the wall of your vessels may become very weak. When this happens, you are at risk of developing a bubble of collected blood in the vessel that could explode. This is also referred to as an aneurism.

Symptoms of Vasculitis

It is difficult to diagnose vasculitis because it is often overlooked in favor of other, more common problems with which it shares symptoms. If you experience fever, weight loss, extreme fatigue, joint pain or muscle pain or nerve problems, you may have vasculitis—of course, you may have about a million other diseases, disorders or infections as well.

There are many different types of vasculitis which can help narrow down the diagnosis in some instances. That is because each distinct type of vasculitis has its own set of unique symptoms. For instance, with Behcet’s syndrome you may start getting ulcers in your mouth or genital region. With Giant Cell arteritis you may experience jaw pain and blindness. With Wegener’s granulomatosis it might be sinus infections and shortness of breath. There are 14 types of chronic vasculitis, each with its own unique set of symptoms.

Vasculitis Treatment
Treatment for vasculitis includes a round of steroids. Steroids work to control the inflammation in your blood vessels which can in turn increase the blood flow to your organs and get rid of your symptoms all together. Unfortunately, this does not cure vasculitis so you would need to continue taking the steroids for a long period of time and that can result in its own set of side effects.

If the vasculitis inflammation is due to an immune system disorder (this occurs when your immune system begins to attack your own body) then steroids may not be an effective treatment because your body will continue to attack. In this case certain medications that kill your own cells in your immune system may be the best course of action.

If you think you are suffering from vasculitis let your primary care physician know immediately. He or she will order blood and urine tests to find out if you have the profile of someone with vasculitis. They may also order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to take a look at your blood vessels and get a visual indication of whether or not they are thickening or are compromised in any way.

Last updated on Dec 26th, 2010 and filed under Skin Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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