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Learning About Vasculitis

What is vasculitis?

Vasculitis means inflamed blood vessels. This happens when the body's own immune system attacks the blood vessels.

Your immune system might be reacting to an infection or a medicine. Or you may have an immune disorder.

Vasculitis causes blood vessel walls to thicken, weaken, or stretch. This makes it harder for blood to flow. And that can lead to symptoms in any parts of your body that aren't getting enough blood. The blood vessels might also bleed inside your body.

There are different types of vasculitis. And different parts of the body can be affected. This includes the head, joints and muscles, the skin, and some internal organs.

What can you expect when you have vasculitis?

Vasculitis can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Which ones you have will depend on what blood vessels are involved and how serious the problem is.

Some common symptoms are:

  • Fever.
  • Losing weight and not feeling hungry.
  • General tiredness.
  • General aches and pains.
  • Pain and swelling in an arm, a leg, or some other body part where the blood vessels are inflamed.

For some people, the problem is short-term. For others it is long-term, or chronic.

This problem may also go away, only to come back again later.

How is it treated?

The main goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels.

Mild cases may go away on their own. Sometimes over-the-counter pain medicine helps. For more severe cases, a doctor might prescribe medicine that reduces inflammation.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.