What is vasculitis?

In daily life, many diseases may progress insidiously, as they do not show symptoms in the early stages. While these diseases can sometimes heal on their own, in some cases they can lead to more serious problems. One of these diseases is vasculitis. There are many different types of vasculitis, and some of these types do not show symptoms in the early stages. For this reason, some of the patients are not aware of their illnesses unless it is very advanced. The progression of some types of vasculitis may endanger the lives of patients, as its treatment is difficult in progressive diseases. In order to prevent this, it is necessary to know what the symptoms of vasculitis are. But first of all, what is vasculitis, what are its causes and what kind of symptoms it causes must be answered.

Vasculitis is the general name for several different conditions that cause inflammation in blood vessels. This condition is also called angioitis or arthritis. Vasculitis can occur in veins or arteries and has many different types. Symptoms and causes differ between species. Many types of vasculitis are very rare and the cause of their occurrence is unknown. It can be seen in people of all ages and genders. However, some types of the disease only affect certain groups of people. The disease known as Kawasaki is seen only in children, while the disease called giant cell arteritis is only seen in individuals over the age of 50. Vasculitis causes poor quality blood flow to all tissues in the body such as lungs, nerves and skin. Therefore, the disease can affect many parts of the body. If it affects the lungs and windpipe, it can trigger shortness of breath and cough, and if it affects other tissues, it can trigger numbness and weakness in the hands or feet, and a red stain on the skin. Vasculitis affecting the kidneys leads to very risky situations. Because the disease does not show any symptoms at the beginning, but the patient’s condition may become more serious in the future.


What are the symptoms of vasculitis?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of vasculitis. While some vasculitis diseases show no symptoms, some can cause serious problems in patients. But in general, a few symptoms are common to many vasculitis diseases.

• Fire,
• Headache,
• Fatigue and weakness,
• Weight loss
• General aches and joint pains are among the most common symptoms.

Other symptoms other than this vary depending on which part of the body vasculitis affects. If the digestive system is affected by this disease, the stomach and intestine order is disturbed. Stomach and intestinal pain occurs after eating. Conditions such as ulcers and gastritis may occur and bleeding may occur during defecation. Vasculitis affecting the ears can cause dizziness, ringing in the ears, and sudden hearing loss. In cases where vasculitis affects the eyes, symptoms of burning, itching and redness appear in the eyes. Even temporary or permanent vision may occur. There are some situations where the hands and feet are numb. At the same time, if it affects the lung, shortness of breath may occur. Vasculitis that occurs in the skin creates red spots due to bleeding under the skin. In addition to all these, some of the vasculitis patients look for answers to questions such as what lymphocytes, what lymphocytes mean and what is lymphocyte height due to the high lymphocyte (LYM) levels they see in their blood results. There may be an increase in the number of lymphocytes that have important roles in the body defense system. This increase can be called lymphocyte elevation or lymphocytosis.

What are the causes of vasculitis?

The exact cause of vasculitis is not yet fully understood. Some types of the disease may be related to the patient’s genetic codes. In some patients, it occurs as a result of the immune system attacking blood vessel cells. Often there is another underlying cause. Infections such as hepatitis B and C can cause the immune system to attack blood cells. Blood cancers, immune system diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scledorma, and vasculitis can be seen as side effects of some drugs. Giant cell arteritis is more likely to occur in individuals over the age of 50. Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to have Kawasaki disease. This disease is more common in families with a history of Behçet’s disease and other vasculitis diseases. In addition, cocaine use can increase the risk of heavy smoking and Buerger’s disease vasculitis for individuals younger than 45 years old. Vasculitis can be triggered by drugs such as hydrain, allopurinol, minocycline, and propylthiouracil. The weak immune system also facilitates the occurrence of vasculitis. Buerger’s disease is more common in men, while giant cell arteritis diseases are more common in women.


What are the types of vasculitis disease?

Vasculitis causes different diseases in the area where it occurs. If it occurs in the largest arteries such as the aorta, diseases such as Spondylarrodepathy, Cogan Syndrome, Giant Cell Arteritis in Arotitis, Takayasu Arteritis and Isolated Aortitis occur. Vasculitis in medium-sized vessels causes Kawasaki and Polyarteritis Nodosa disease. If it occurs in small and medium sized vessels, it causes Granulomatosis and Polyangiitis, Microscopic Polyangiitis Eosinophilic Granulomatosis, Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss) and Central Primary Angioid diseases. If vasculitis affects smaller vessels, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren’s syndrome, criglobulinemic vasculitis, anti-GBM disease (Goodpasture’s), IgA vasculitis (Henoch-Schönlein) diseases may occur. If it affects veins of various sizes, Behçet’s Disease and Polychondritis diseases may occur.


How is vasculitis diagnosed?

In order to diagnose vasculitis, physical examination and laboratory tests should be done together. The most common tests performed are biopsy and angiography. A piece is surgically removed from the area suspected of having vasculitis to be examined under a microscope with biopsy. By examining this piece in a laboratory environment, an idea about the disease is obtained. Angiography is performed to look for abnormalities in blood vessels. It is aimed to diagnose the disease by imaging the vessels with X-rays. In addition, complete blood count tests should be performed and the results should be evaluated. Doctors diagnose the type of vasculitis based on the type of vein affected. Biopsy of the skin and kidneys is performed to find vasculitis affecting small vessels. Biopsy is performed on the skin, nerves and brain to diagnose medium-sized vessels. However, angiography can also be applied. For the detection of giant cell arteritis, biopsy taken from the scalp should be examined. Thus, the type of the disease is determined.


What are the treatment methods for vasculitis?

In order to treat vasculitis, first of all, its type must be diagnosed correctly. Only in this way is it possible to apply an effective treatment method. Steroids play an important role in the treatment of many types of vasculitis. The length and dose of treatment depends on the level and type of the disease. These drugs help reduce inflammation, but with prolonged use, side effects are likely to occur. In some cases, treatment can also be carried out with immunosuppressive drugs. This is also called steroid sparing therapy. Cyclophosphamide is the most common and powerful of these drugs. Such drugs are used in the treatment of the most serious types of vasculitis. For non-serious vasculitis diseases, it is possible to treat with lower dose immunosuppressive drugs. Damages caused by severe vasculitis can be corrected only by surgical intervention in some cases. Among the most common of these operations is bypass grafting. The purpose of the method involves blood flow around the occluded blood vessel. Depending on the location of the disease, sinus surgery or kidney transplantation is among the surgical methods applied.


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