Symptoms and Signs of Vasculitis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/7/2022

Doctor's Notes on Vasculitis

Vasculitis describes a group of diseases characterized by inflammation and damage to blood vessels or blood vessel walls. Vasculitis can be a primary disease that occurs by itself or a secondary condition that is related to another underlying disease.

Symptoms of vasculitis occur because the inflammation of the blood vessels results in an impaired or complete lack of blood flow to the specific organ(s) supplied by the affected blood vessels and can vary depending on what blood vessels are affected.

Symptoms of central nervous system (CNS) vasculitis may include 

  • headaches,
  • confusion, or
  • focal neurologic problems.

Vasculitis that affects the lungs can have symptoms similar to asthma. Systemic vasculitis symptoms may include

Symptoms of vasculitis that affects blood vessels in the head (temporal arteritis) may include 

  • headache and tender,
  • thick blood vessels on the side of the forehead.

Symptoms of vasculitis of the skin may include purpura, hives, or ulcers.

What is the treatment for vasculitis?

There are two primary treatments for vasculitis, medications that control or reduce the inflammation in most patients and surgery to remove an aneurysm or a blocked blood vessel. The following is a list of medications used to treat the various types of vasculitis:

Surgery is used to treat problems that may occur due to vasculitis:

  • Removal of aneurysms to avoid vascular rupture and internal bleeding
  • Removal of blockage in vessels due to inflammation to restore blood flow

Your doctors can help you establish a treatment plan for your vasculitis type. 

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.