It is caused by many conditions, including scleroderma, a rare inflammatory disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body. When blood vessels, which carry blood throughout the body, are attacked, their walls become stiffened, thickened, weakened, or distended (as in an aneurysm). This leads to the blockage of blood flow and can cause problems affecting the entire body.
Vasculitis causes a wide range of symptoms such as fever, swelling, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and general aches and pains.
The condition can affect any part of the circulatory system. If it affects the skin and joints, symptoms may include blemishes such as spots, dots, bruises, hives, and itches.
Vasculitis can also affect the blood vessels carrying blood to different organs. In severe cases, it can lead to ulcers, gangrene, and bleeding in the internal organs.
If it reduces blood flow to the eyes, it may cause irritation that can be detected through dry eyes and vision problems. In severe cases, it may even lead to blindness.
Vasculitis can also lead to a higher risk of infections in the sinuses and middle ear, ulcers in the nose, and hearing loss.
Loss of circulation in the brain can cause headaches, problems in thinking, and even paralysis. Tingling, numbness, and loss of strength can also be seen when nerves outside the brain are affected.
If scleroderma is present, medical professionals will be on the lookout for vasculitis as a possible complication.
X-rays and other imaging tests such as angiography, or radiography of the blood vessels, can be used to reveal abnormalities in the blood vessel walls, as well as organ damage and bleeding.
Oorgan and blood vessel biopsies, where a piece of tissue is taken to be tested in the laboratory, can also help determine the presence of vasculitis.
Vasculitis is a serious condition that is potentially be life-threatening if left untreated. It is treated with glucocorticoids and immunosuppressants such as cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and azathioprine. Rituximab can also be used for particularly severe cases.
However, these medications can have several side effects. Glucocorticoids reduce inflammation, but can also cause bone loss, muscle weakness, high blood pressure and blood sugar, alterations in mood and memory, and weight gain. They can also cause bleeding in the intestinal tract.
While reducing the symptoms of scleroderma, immunosuppressants increase the risk of infections. Patients taking these medications should take extra care to protect themselves from infections.
Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.