Vasculitis disease occurs due to inflammation of blood vessels also known as vascular system. The blood vessels consist of arteries and veins. Arteries supply oxygenated blood to the heart and tissues of the body and veins carry deoxygenated blood from the heart and tissues to the lungs. Any damage to the blood vessels causes inflammation and is characterized as vasculitis disease. The vasculitis symptoms are characterized based on the organ that is affected.
Vasculitis typically affects every part of the body. The most common vasculitis symptoms involve:
1. Appearance of rashes and purple-red spots on the skin, usually found on the legs, which are due to the flow of blood into the skin through damaged walls of blood vessels. It also causes hyperpigmenation due to frequent damage to the blood vessels.
2. Swelling of joints and joint aches due to the inflammation of blood vessels in the joints.
3. Shortness of breath and a cough, which is due to the inflammation of the blood vessels in the lungs.
4. Inflammation of the kidneys causes clusters of blood cells, the presence of protein in the urine and loss of red blood cells.
5. Inflammation of blood vessels in the eyes causing loss of vision, thinning of sclera, retinal problems, and conjunctivitis.
6. Inflammation of blood vessels leading to the brain causing stroke, headache, and loss of mental balance.
There are different forms of the vasculitis disease, depending on the organ that is inflamed and each form has its own distinctive symptoms. The most common forms of vascular disease are:
Giant cell arteritis: It is also known as temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis. It usually occurs in adults and is caused due to the inflammations of blood vessels in the head and neck. The symptoms include headache, throat pain, fever, tongue pain, jaw pain, blurred vision, weight loss, stroke, and pain in the arms. Severe cases could result in blindness.
Wegener’s Granulomatosis: It occurs in all age groups and the organs that are affected are the upper respiratory tract, lungs and the kidneys. The symptoms of this vascular disease include ear and eye infections, nose bleeding, and sinuses, narrowing of windpipe, pneumonia, and kidney failure if kidneys are inflamed.
Buerger’s Disease: It occurs due to inflammation of blood vessels present in the fingers. It is most commonly found in young people who are chain smokers. The common symptoms involve pain in the fingers due to insufficient blood flow.