ANGIITIS - Overview, Facts, Types, Diagnosis & Medications, Etc

ANGIITIS

Angiitis, also known as vasculitis or arteritis, is an inflammation of the blood vessels. It commonly affects the veins, capillaries, and arteries. It is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessels which results in an infection, medication, or another disorder. When the blood vessels are inflamed, it makes the blood circulation in the body difficult, causing tissues and organs to get not enough blood that eventually results in damages.

TYPES

There are many types of angiitis. Some are only acute, while others are chronic. The diseases that are considered to be a type of angiitis may have similarities with one another. But there are ways to differentiate them which can be by the organs affected, medications used for treatment, and other characteristics. Here are the types of angiitis:

  • Behcet’s Disease. It is an inflammation of the arteries and veins characterized by mouth ulcers, genital ulcers, and eye inflammation.
  • Buerger’s Disease. It is an inflammation of the blood vessels which may also be accompanied by clotting. It is characterized by decreased blood flow in the hands and feet, which typically affects smokers.
  • Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Also known as Churg-Strauss syndrome, is a rare condition that affects the lungs, kidneys, heart, skin, and nerves of the limbs. Symptoms may include nasal allergies, asthma, and nerve pain.
  • Cryoglobulinemia. It is characterized by rashes on the lower extremities caused by abnormal proteins in the blood. It can be associated with hepatitis C virus infection.
  • Giant Cell Arteritis. The most common type of angiitis for adults in North America. It is an inflammation of the arteries in the head. It is characterized by fever, headache, and pain in the jaw and scalp.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Also known as Wegener’s Disease, is an inflammation of the blood vessels in the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and kidneys. Its symptoms may include nasal stuffiness, sinus infections, nosebleeds, and coughing off the blood.
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura. An inflammation of the capillaries of the skin, joints, bowel, and kidneys that occurs more in children than adults. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, blood in urine, joint pain, and rashes in the lower extremities.
  • Kawasaki Disease. Also called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, is a condition that typically affects children under the age of 5. It is characterized by fever, rashes, and eye redness.
  • Microscopic polyangiitis. An Angiitis that affects the small blood vessels of the kidneys, lungs, or nerves. Symptoms may include rashes, abdominal and muscle pain, fever, and weight loss.
  • Polyarteritis nodosa. Angiitis that typically affects the kidneys, digestive tract, and the skin’s nerves. Symptoms may include high blood pressure, pain in the abdomen, muscles, and joints, malaise, and kidney problems.
  • Takayasu’s arteritis. An angiitis that affects the larger arteries of the body that typically occurs in women under the age of 50. Symptoms may include loss of pulse, high blood pressure, night sweats, malaise, visual changes, headache, and fever.

 

SYMPTOMS

Since there are many types of angiitis, the symptoms may vary. Still, there are general symptoms that should be monitored. This includes:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Rashes
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

DIAGNOSIS

Since there are several types of angiitis, there are several tests that may be done to diagnose the condition accurately. The doctor will take a look at the medical history and conduct a physical examination of the affected areas.

Laboratory tests such as blood tests, urine tests, and biopsy may be performed to look for signs of inflammation, condition of the red blood cells, and levels of C-reactive protein.

Imaging tests may also be conducted to determine which blood vessels and organs are affected.

 

TREATMENT

The treatment is focused on managing the inflammation. If the angiitis is suspected to be triggered by an underlying disease, treatment options for this disease will be discussed. Typically, medications are enough to treat angiitis in which corticosteroid drugs are prescribed to control the inflammation. Other medications may be prescribed alongside corticosteroid drugs to regulate its side effects.

If the blood vessels have bulged to the point that it forms a wall that blocks the passage of blood flow, surgery will be required.

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