Vasculitis is an inflammation of blood vessels that restricts blood flow, resulting in organ and tissue damage.

Vasculitis is also known as Angiitis and Arteritis. There are many types of Vasculitis, and most of them are rare. Vasculitis might affect just one organ, such as your skin, or it may involve several. The condition can be short term (acute) or long lasting (chronic).

Vasculitis can affect anyone, though some types are more common among certain groups. Depending on the type you have, you may improve without treatment. Or you will need medications to control the inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

Symptoms of Vasculitis

The signs and symptoms of Vasculitis vary greatly and are often related to decreased blood flow throughout the body. General signs and symptoms of Vasculitis include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • General aches and pains
  • Night sweats
  • Rash
  • Nerve problems, such as numbness or weakness
  • Loss of a pulse in a limb

Diagnosis of Vasculitis

Patients with Vasculitis learn that making the diagnosis is sometimes quite difficult. Many endure numerous doctors’ visits, tests, and hospitalizations before the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. The diagnosis of Vasculitis usually requires a biopsy of an involved organ (skin, kidney, lung, nerve, temporal artery). This allows us to ‘see’ the Vasculitis by looking under a microscope to see the inflammatory immune cells in the wall of the blood vessel.

Blood tests, X–rays, and other studies may suggest the diagnosis of Vasculitis, but often the only way to clinch the diagnosis is to biopsy involved tissue, examine the tissue under the microscope in consultation with a pathologist (ideally one experienced at examining biopsies in Vasculitis), and find the pathologic hallmarks of the disease.

Treatment of Vasculitis

Your treatment will be focused on controlling the inflammation with medications and resolving any underlying disease that triggered your Vasculitis. For your Vasculitis, you may go through two treatment phases — stopping the inflammation and preventing relapse (maintenance therapy).

Both phases involve prescription drugs. Which drugs and how long you need to take them depend on the type of Vasculitis, the organs involved and how serious your condition is.

Some people have initial success with treatment, then experience flare-ups later. Others may never see their Vasculitis completely go away and need ongoing treatment.

Prevention of Vasculitis

You can’t prevent Vasculitis. However, treatment can help prevent or delay the complications of Vasculitis.

People who have severe Vasculitis are treated with prescription medicines. Rarely, surgery may be done. People who have mild Vasculitis may find relief with over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

Need Help Affording Medications?

Patients who are having difficulty paying for their medications, and who have federally funded Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or commercial insurance, may qualify for additional support from the following foundations below: