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Five Types of Vasculitis

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Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels caused when the immune system mistakes blood vessels for foreign invaders and mounts an attack. The resulting inflammation causes arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow to vital organs.

Because red blood cells are the mechanism that delivers oxygen throughout the body, restricted blood flow reduces the amount of oxygen received which may result in serious damage to vital organs, and in some cases, death.

Vasculitis comes in various forms, some of which are not so serious and may last only a short time. Other forms may be serious, chronic life-long conditions. Some types of vasculitis may become life-threatening.

Here, we’ll take a look at five forms of vasculitis. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but simply to provide information on a few common vasculitis types.

Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis is often referred to as hypersensitivity vasculitis, allergic vasculitis, or cutaneous vasculitis. Caused by an allergic reaction to medication or infection, this form of vasculitis affects the surface of the skin.

It’s characterized by a rash -- red spots -- that appear on the lower legs. Sometimes, the rash appears on the backs of people who are restricted to bed.

If the root cause is an allergic reaction to medication, this form of vasculitis often goes away once the offending medication is stopped. Some cases may require treatment with corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Vasculitis

CNS vasculitis affects medium-sized blood vessels and is generally a result of “systemic” vasculitis, meaning that the vasculitis affects your entire system. This type of vasculitis includes any type of vasculitis that affects the central nervous system such as cerebral vasculitis, Behcet’s disease, Cogan’s syndrome, or Wegener's granulomatosis.

Various rheumatologic diseases such as lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and Lyme disease may also be contributing factors to CNS.

Add a Comment2 Comments

In the U.S. and other Western countries, Behcet's Disease is more common in women than men. It's only in the Middle East & Asian regions where men predominate.

Behcet's can cause many symptoms not mentioned here, and some patients never have the eye or brain involvement described. Children can also have Behcet's, although it's uncommon before the teenage years.

Most common symptoms include recurrent oral and genital ulcers, eye inflammation, skin lesions, arthritis, GI problems, headaches, fatigue, and CNS/brain involvement similar to MS.

November 4, 2011 - 12:07pm
Blogger (reply to amietamant)

Hello Amie... Thank you so very much for all the additional information on Behcet's Disease. It's often difficult to get all the information that I'd like into an article because we are limited on length. I love it when readers and other Empowher members share their experiences and additional info. Thank you so much for posting and sharing the additional information. I appreciate it! Mary

November 6, 2011 - 10:56pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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