Some health conditions are hard to diagnose, as they do not cause direct symptoms. For example, when you have liver disease, your liver does not hurt. Instead, you may develop jaundice. Another example of this is a condition that can easily be overlooked known as vasculitis, which causes inflammation of the blood vessels.
The part of the body that is affected by vasculitis will determine what symptoms are experienced. Furthermore, vasculitis may also appear alongside other health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
What is vasculitis? Causes and symptoms
There are several different types of vasculitis depending on which blood vessels are involved. The most serious types of vasculitis are those that affect small or medium-sized arteries.
The most common type of vasculitis is giant cell arteritis, which affects the arteries in the skull, and Takayasu’s, which affects the main artery of the heart. Giant cell arteritis is most common among individuals over the age of 50 and symptoms of it include aching or soreness around the temples, headaches, double vision or vision loss, and jaw muscle pain while eating.
Other symptoms include tiredness, mild fever, and weight loss. Symptoms of Takayasu’s includes high blood pressure, numbness, or cold-feeling limbs, visual changes, headaches, and loss of pulse.
Nearly half of patients with giant cell arteritis also develop polymyalgia rheumatica, which triggers pain and stiffness in the shoulder muscles along with pain affecting the hips and neck. This pain can be at its worst in the morning but progressively improves throughout the day.
In some cases, severe vasculitis can be life-threatening, so early diagnosis and treatment is highly important to prevent complications.
Generally, most types of vasculitis respond well to treatment and many patients will experience a full recovery. Some cases of vasculitis can be triggered by infection, hepatitis, treatments with certain drugs, and gout.
The difficulty of diagnosing vasculitis correctly is that many of its symptoms overlap with other conditions, including the flu. The full list of symptoms includes headache, fever, fatigue, weight loss, general aches and pains, night sweats, rash, nerve problems such as numbness, and loss of pulse in a limb.
Therefore, if you are a person who didn’t experience headaches or joint pain previously, and now you are experiencing it often, you should talk to your doctor about your change in health.