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Vasculitis: 5 Drugs to Control This Mysterious Blood Vessel Illness

Vasculitis HeadacheVasculitis is a complex illness. This spectrum of conditions involving blood vessel inflammation usually has unknown causes — and symptoms can be hard to pin down. The good news is that doctors are making strides in their understanding of these diseases with better drug therapies.

Rheumatologist Adam Brown, MD says that vasculitis can affect anyone of any age and can result in damage to organs and blood vessels over time. It was once considered fatal, but thanks to medical advances, vasculitis is now manageable as a chronic condition in many cases.

Symptoms are diverse
What makes treating vasculitis a challenge? Here are a few reasons:

  • There are several different types of vasculitis

  • Even within a specific disease, the features differ among patients

  • Many organs and/or blood vessels are affected

  • Some forms are mild, others severe

  • It can be secondary to an underlying condition

  • It can be a primary disease with an unknown cause

There’s no easy way to tell if you have vasculitis because symptoms can vary greatly, Dr. Brown says.

“One type of vasculitis is known as giant cell arteritis, which primarily affects elderly patients,” he says. “It usually presents with new headaches and pain in your jaw while eating. Another type affects your lungs, causing you to have shortness of breath and to cough up blood. There are also forms of vasculitis that can cause big, swollen and painful joints.”

Other symptoms run the gamut and may include nasal congestion, nose bleeds, mouth ulcers, hearing loss, skin lesions, vision problems, numbness, weakness, cough, shortness of breath, fever and unexplained weight loss.

Treatment Considerations