Vasculitis What Is Vasculitis?


Doctor touching woman's chin Vasculitis, also known as angiitis or arteritis, includes a group of rare conditions that can take place when swelling affects the walls of your blood vessels. Swelling is your body’s response to tissue injury. Autoimmune disorders or diseases that make your body attack itself, infections, and trauma are some examples of potential causes of swelling in the blood vessels. Swelling in the blood vessels can lead to serious problems, including organ damage and aneurysms, a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel.

There are many different types of vasculitis, and it can affect any of the blood vessels in the body. With vasculitis, you may experience general symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, tiredness, pain, and rash. You may have other symptoms depending on the part of the body that is affected and if the vasculitis is serious. If you are diagnosed with vasculitis, medicine can help improve your symptoms and help you avoid flares and complications. If vasculitis responds to treatment, it can go into remission, a period of time when the disease is not active.


There are several types of vasculitis.

  • Anti-glomerular basement membrane disease affects blood vessels in the lungs and kidneys.
  • Behçet’s disease can cause damage to many areas of your body.
  • Buerger’s disease, also known as thromboangiitis obliterans, usually affects blood flow to the arms and legs.
  • Central nervous system vasculitis, also called primary angiitis, affects the blood vessels in the central nervous system, or the brain and spinal cord. This type of vasculitis may also occur as the result of another type of vasculitis.
  • Cogan’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder associated with a particular type of vasculitis that affects the whole body.
  • Cryoglobulinemic vasculitis affects the small blood vessels. It prevents proper blood flow and causes pain and damage to the skin, joints, peripheral nerves, kidneys, and liver.
  • Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, also known as Churg-Strauss syndrome, often affects the respiratory tract.
  • Giant cell arteritis mostly affects the aorta or its major branches. The condition often affects the temporal artery in the head.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis usually affects the nose and throat area, lungs, and kidneys.
  • Hypersensitivity vasculitis affects the skin. This condition also is known as allergic vasculitis, cutaneous vasculitis, or leukocytoclastic vasculitis.
  • Hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis is associated with swelling in the small blood vessels and low levels of complement proteins, which affect the body’s ability to develop defenses against infection
  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA) vasculitis, also known as Henoch-Schönlein purpura, is one of the most common types of vasculitis in children but can also affect adults. It develops when IgA, which is a type of antibody that usually helps defend the body against infections, builds up in blood vessels in the skin, joints, intestines, and kidneys.
  • Kawasaki disease is a rare childhood disease that develops when the walls of the blood vessels throughout the body swell. Kawasaki disease is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome.
  • Microscopic polyangiitis affects small blood vessels, often including those in the kidneys and lungs.
  • Polyarteritis nodosa causes swelling and damage most often to medium-sized arteries. This type of vasculitis may cause muscle pain or symptoms related to the stomach or intestines like heartburn.
  • Takayasu arteritis most often affects the aorta and its branches. The condition can also affect medium-sized arteries.
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