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Vasculitis: Inflammation of Blood Vessels

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Vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels. There are many types classified according to the blood vessels affected and the symptoms.

Primary vasculitis occurs for unknown reasons. Secondary vasculitis cases have a recognized underlying cause, including infection, allergic reaction, blood cell cancer, or autoimmune disease. Inflammation affects the blood vessels by causing thickening, weakening, narrowing and scarring. Organs, muscles, and other tissue can be damaged if they do not get enough blood.

Most types of vasculitis include the following symptoms:
1. Fever
2. Fatigue
3. Weight loss
4. Muscle and joint pain
5. Loss of appetite
6. Numbness or weakness

The Mayo Clinic web site provides a list of common vasculitis types with their defining characteristics:

Behcet's syndrome.
Vessels affected: all arteries and veins can be affected.
Symptoms: mouth and genital ulcers, eye inflammation, acne-like skin lesions.
Associated with: age range 20 to 40.

Buerger's disease, or thromboangiitis obliterans.
Vessels affected: blood vessels in arms, hands, legs, feet.
Symptoms: Pain in arms, hands, legs, and feet; ulcers on fingers and toes.
Associated with: cigarette smoking.

Churg-Strauss syndrome, or allergic granulomatosis, or allergic angiitis.
Vessels affected: blood vessels in the lungs.
Associated with: asthma.

Vessels affected: various.
Symptoms: purpura rash on lower extremities, arthritis, weakness, nerve damage.
Associated with: hepatitis C infections.

Giant cell arteritis.
Vessels affected: arteries in head, especially in the temples.
Symptoms: headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain while chewing, blurred or double vision.
Associated with: polymyalgia rheumatica.

Henoch-Schonlein purpura, or vascular purpura.
Vessels affected: blood vessels in skin joints, bowel, and kidneys.
Symptoms: abdominal pain, blood in the urine, joint pain, purpura rash on buttocks, legs, and feet.
Associated with: occurs mostly in children, but can affect any age.

Polyarteritis nodosa.

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EmpowHER Guest

Excellent article Linda...Thanks for sharing! Mary

April 15, 2010 - 9:51pm
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