Vasculitis is a condition of inflammation or swelling of blood vessels. The blood vessels develop swelling increasing in size or sometimes they become weak and narrow. In either case it affects the normal blood flow in particular organ. Vasculitis can develop in any age but some types are common in specific age groups only. Often, vasculitis affects the blood vessels of skin, brain or eye but in rare cases it can develop in other vital organs also.
The symptoms of vasculitis differ widely with the organ that has been affected and the intensity of inflammation. Vasculitis can be diagnosed by biopsy or angiography. Treatment is given in the form of steroids to manage inflammation and suppressor medications to control immune system. Vascular system is the term used for blood vessels in your body and since the blood vessels are affected (either developing inflammation or narrowing) the term vasculitis is used for referring any complications or diseases in the blood vessel.
Exact cause of vasculitis is not known. But it is believed to develop due to abnormality in immune system. People with Behcet’s disease, Kawasaki disease, cyoglobulinemia, Churg Strauss syndrome, and giant cell arteritis and polyarteritis nodosa can develop vasculitis.
For some people intake of certain medications can trigger symptoms of vasculitis. It can also be caused due to infection as side effect. Severe infectious disease like Hepatitis B can trigger abnormal response from the immune system causing inflammation of blood vessels. People with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus can develop vasculitis.
The symptoms of vasculitis are not the same for all people. It depends on the intensity of inflammation of the blood vessel and the organs that has been affected. Some of the general symptoms of vasculitis are extreme tiredness, weakness, fever, loss of appetite, loss of weight, and malaise. In case the blood vessels of the skin are affected it can cause discoloration of the skin, skin ulcers and rashes.
If the blood vessels of the lungs are inflamed it can cause persistent cough and breathlessness. If vasculitis happens to develop on the heart it can cause heart failure and death. If the blood vessels of the brain get damaged due to vasculitis it can cause several neurological problems like numbness, paralysis, stroke, confusion and seizures. It can cause kidney failure if the vasculitis develops on the kidneys.
Vasculitis can sometimes become very serious. In severe cases the inflamed blood vessel can become so weak that it ruptures inside causing death. In some cases, normal blood flow to the vital organ would cut off either partially or completely causing serious health issues. The tissues would die due to blocked blood flow causing serious complications. Since vasculitis can form in any vital organ or tissue of the body it should be treated immediately.
The doctor will look for the symptoms and request for blood test and body fluids testing. He would confirm the diagnosis by doing a biopsy of the affected tissue which shows blood vessel inflammation. The tissue sample will be taken from the concerned affected part of the body like skin, lungs, nerves or kidneys. He may also suggest imaging tests like X-ray, angiogram and MRI procedure to know the intensity of inflammation of the blood vessel.
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Vasculitis :
The doctor will devise suitable treatment for vasculitis based on your health condition, the part that has been affected and the severity of inflammation. Mild forms of vascuitis may not require any medical treatment and the symptoms will improve gradually. Steroid drugs are prescribed for managing inflammation of blood vessels. Medication like Medrol (methylpredinoslone) is recommended in appropriate strength.
Taking steroids for long period can cause adverse effects like increase in weight, thinning of bones and diabetes. Your doctor will start with high dosage and gradually reduce the strength to prevent side effects. In some cases drugs that suppress the functions of immune system like azathioprine, cyclophosphamide or rituximab are given. Emergency treatment is to be given if vital organs like kidney, brain or heart is affected with vasculitis.
Lifestyle Changes :
You can discuss with your doctor about the intensity of illness and possibility of side effects so that you can report if there are any symptoms. Stay active and eat a healthy diet. Include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits in your daily menu. Go for brisk walk or do some aerobic exercises regularly so that it can streamline the blood flow.