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Vasculitis: The auto-immune inflammation of blood vessels

  • Published
    10th Aug, 2022
Context

A Hollywood actor had a “weird, super rare form of vasculitis” two years ago that “knocked out” his vision and hearing, is now fully recovered.

About

What is vasculitis?

  • Vasculitis is simply an inflammation of blood vessels.
  • Inflammation is the natural response of the body’s immune system to any injury or infection, which in normal course can help the body fight invading germs.
  • It’s also called angiitis or arteritis.
  • It can make your blood vessels weak, stretched, bigger, or narrower. They might close entirely.
  • Vasculitis can affect people at any age.
  • Some forms affect blood vessels that go to or supply specific organs like your skin, eyes, or brain.
  • Other kinds might involve many organ systems at the same time.

Vasculitis Causes

  • The cause of many cases of vasculitis is yet unknown. It might be linked to an allergic reaction to a medication. 

Vasculitis Complications

  • Vasculitis can be serious. When your blood vessel becomes weak, it might stretch and bulge (called an aneurysm). It might also burst open, causing bleeding. This can be life-threatening but is very rare.

What are the different kinds of vasculitis?

  • According to the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center, there are around 20 different disorders that are classified as vasculitis. Angiitis and Arteritis are used as synonyms for vasculitis, literally meaning “inflammation within blood vessels” or “inflammation in arteries.”
  • Some of the diseases associated with vasculitis are Behcet’s Disease, which is characterised by oral and genital ulcers and eye inflammation.
  • Buerger’s Disease, which mainly affects smokers and leads to decreased flow of blood to the hands and feet; and
  • EGPA, which is associated with asthma, sinusitis, and tends to involve the lungs, kidneys, and heart as well.

Treatment

  • Different types of inflammation cause different diseases, which have their own symptoms and treatment protocols.
  • Steroids are frequently prescribed, as are some other medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system.

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