Polyarteritis nodosa is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system is your body’s defense system. It fights diseases and infections. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. With polyarteritis nodosa, small and medium-sized arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body) become inflamed and damaged. The inflammation of the arteries affects many different organs, including the:
- Central nervous system (part of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord)
- Peripheral nerves (nerves of the feet, hands, legs, arms, and face)
- Gastrointestinal tract (part of the digestive system that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines)
- Ear, nose, and throat
Although polyarteritis nodosa is a rare disease, it is a potentially serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner polyarteritis nodosa is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor immediately.