CRANIAL ARTERITIS

Cranial arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis, is a condition that causes inflammation of the arteries, the blood vessels that deliver oxygen from your heart to your entire body. It commonly affects the major and minor temporal arteries, which flow across both sides of your head. Under a microscope, the cells of these swollen arteries seem enormous. Furthermore, it is an autoimmune condition wherein your immune system wrongly assaults your body’s healthy tissues, such as blood vessels, causing them to inflame.

SYMPTOMS

Among the most common symptoms is a headache in the scalp and temple that may become excruciating.

Cranial arteritis also includes the following symptoms:

  • Tongue ache
  • Throat discomfort
  • Cough
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hip, shoulder, arm, and neck discomfort
  • Vision impairments
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain especially if chewing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

If you see or feel any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

DIAGNOSIS

Your physician will examine you and inquire regarding your symptoms. They will also search for puffiness and a weak pulse in your scalp’s temporal artery. Moreover, a biopsy of the temporal artery may be required. If this is the case, your physician will sedate a region of your scalp before removing a tiny bit of the temporal artery and examining it under a microscope.

Your physician may also perform one or more of the following:

  • MRI scan. Radio waves and strong magnets are employed to create explicit photographs of your arteries.
  • CT scan. Several X-rays from various angles are combined to provide additional information regarding your arteries.
  • Blood test. A sample is obtained to examine your body for symptoms of inflammation.

TREATMENT

If you have cranial arteritis, your physician will immediately put you on medication to avoid vision problems and other complications, such as high doses of steroids, like prednisone, to decrease inflammation in the arteries. You will take this drug orally every day. 

Furthermore, most individuals use steroids for 1 to 2 years. Your physician might also do blood tests to evaluate whether the swelling in your arteries has decreased. As time passes, your physician will reduce the dosage of your medication.

However, since these drugs could damage your bones, they may advise you to get frequent bone mineral density testing. To reduce or prevent bone deterioration, your doctor may recommend vitamin D, calcium supplements, and a prescription medicine known as a bisphosphonate.

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