Vasculitis is a condition that causes the inflammation of the blood vessels. It causes the walls in the blood vessels to change, beginning to thicken, weaken and scar. This can greatly affect the blood flow which in turn can damage organs. It is a rare condition, but there are several different types of it. Vasculitis can vary between a disease that can effect one localised area such as the skin or several areas on the body. It can also be an acute condition as well as a chronic one.
The vasculitis cause isn’t fully understood. It can affect anyone, although there can be a person’s genetics can play a factor in who it affects. Another cause is the immune system mistakenly attacking the blood vessel, possibly reacting to infections, cancers or the rejection of certain drugs. Although the condition has been known to leave the sufferer without treatment, depending on the type a course of medication may be advised.
Vasculitis symptoms can include a fever, persistent headaches, feeling fatigued, aches and pains, problems with nerves, and weight loss. Although these symptoms all indicate vasculitis, due to the varied nature of the condition, the only certain symptoms are the ones related to decreased blood flow throughout the body. This is because the blood vessels affected by vasculitis once inflamed can bleed, which causes the thickening of the walls. This can lead to several more distinct vasculitis conditions such as Behcet’s syndrome, Buerger’s disease which are both inflammatory conditions.
The vasculitis treatments are primarily aimed at reducing the inflammation of blood vessels. The primary form of treatment is the use of prescription drugs. The type of drug needed is wholly dependent on the type, areas affected, and severity of vascilitis in the sufferer. Depending on whether or not the sufferers have acute vascilitis or not, the symptoms may leave them with the exception of the occasional flare ups, or it may remain undeterred by any treatments.
Some of the vascilitis treatments include the use of Corticosteroids to battle the inflamed areas, such as prednisone or medrol. These target the inflamed blood vessels. However, corticosteroids are extremely powerful with potentially severe side effects and as such are used sparingly. An alternative to corticosteroids are the use of immunosuppressant drugs. Immunosuppressant drugs are used to eradicate or decrease the function of the immune system cells that are the source of the inflammation. Some examples of immunosuppressants are azathioprine, methotrexate and cyclophosphamide. However, whilst these vascilitis treatments are very effective, some of them like cyclophosphamide can cause side effects such as an increased risk of cancer, infertility and infection.
Vascilitis is a serious condition and can have long-lasting, potentially life threatening effects on a sufferer. Due to the way it causes the inflammation of blood vessels and could potentially be damaging organs, it is important for anyone who suspects that they are suffering from the condition go to their doctor and seek medical advice.