Vasculitis is a family of nearly 20 rare diseases characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels, which can restrict blood flow and damage vital organs and tissues. Vasculitis is classified as an autoimmune disorder, which occurs when the body’s natural defense system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. Triggers may include infection, medication, genetic or environmental factors, allergic reactions, or another disease. However, the exact cause is often unknown.
- General Vasculitis
- Anti-GBM/Goodpasture’s Syndrome
- Behcet’s Syndrome
- Central Nervous System (CNS) Vasculitis
- Cogan’s Syndrome
- Cutaneous Small-Vessel Vasculitis
- Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis
- Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis)
- Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis
- IgA Vasculitis
- Kawasaki Disease
- Microscopic Polyangiitis
- Polyarteritis Nodosa
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica
- Rheumatoid Vasculitis
- Takayasu’s Arteritis
- Urticarial Vasculitis
Vasculitis can affect any of the blood vessels of the body, including arteries, veins and capillaries. Symptoms depend on the organs and tissues affected, and can vary from person to person. Some forms of the disease are mild and may improve on their own, while others involve critical organ systems and may require lifelong medical care. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.
It is common for people with vasculitis to experience periods of relapse and remission, so regular doctor visits and follow-up monitoring are recommended. Proper treatment and ongoing medical care can improve the quality of life and prognosis for people with vasculitis.
Churg Strauss Syndrone (CSS) (also called Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangitis (EGPA) is a type of vasculitis. It is an autoimmune disease that inflames the small to medium sized blood vessels. The disease varies widely and each case looks different. There are three distinct phases of the disease. The initial prodromal (allergic) phase is often characterized by hay fever and adult onset asthma. During the eosinophilic phase various tissues of the body (GI tract, lungs and skin) accumulate eosinophils (a type of white blood cell that is a sign of allergy). During the final vasculitic phase the blood vessels become inflamed. This can lead to nerve damage and muscle wasting.
Vasculitis symptoms vary from patient to patient and depend on the type of vasculitis and affected tissues and organs. Symptoms may include:
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Lack of appetite/weight loss
- Rashes or skin lesions
- Eye pain and redness/blurred vision
- Chronic nasal, ear and/or sinus problems
- Shortness of breath
- Cough (or coughing up blood)
- Abdominal pain
- Severe headaches
- Nerve problems, such as numbness, weakness, pain (neuropathy)
- Bloody or dark-colored urine, potentially indicating kidney problems (Note: A patient can have kidney disease without having symptoms; therefore, patients with vasculitis of any form should have regular urine tests.)
Victoria's Symptoms: (Churg Strauss Vasculitis) Asthma, chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, high eosiphophil count, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, inner ear pain and drainage, shooting pain into limbs, nerve damage, muscle wasting
Effective treatment of vasculitis often requires the coordinated efforts and ongoing care of a team of medical providers and specialists. In addition to a primary care provider, patients may need to see: a rheumatologist (joints, muscles, immune system); dermatologist (skin); pulmonologist (lungs); gastroenterologist (digestive system); otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat); immunologist (immune system); nephrologist (kidneys); cardiologist (heart); neurologist (brain/and nervous system); or others as needed.
Diagnosing vasculitis can pose a challenge because the symptoms may be similar to those caused by other illnesses or diseases. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam. Depending on symptoms and the type of vasculitis suspected, your doctor may order laboratory work such as:
CBC (Complete Blood Count with differential) CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel), Urine sample to check for kidney involvement. Initially all of these tests once a month; once condition is stable, quarterly blood work is sufficient.
Treatment is based on numerous factors including the specific type of vasculitis, symptoms, organs affected, disease severity, lab results, age, overall health and more. It is essential to work closely with your doctor in developing a comprehensive treatment plan.
Victoria's regimen includes: Cytoxan to calm immune system, Azathioprine (immunosuppresent), Prednisone (steroid), Gabapentin (non-addictive drug that helps with nerve related pain), Glutathione (body's master antioxident), Vitamin D and other vitamins that help modulate the immune system.
METHODS OF HEALING
|The AIP diet and lifestyle is helpful in naturally calming down the immune system. Stress management is key to managing and thriving with an autoimmune condition.|
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ABOUT | Victoria Brenneman is an ADAPT Functional Health Coach and an AIP Certified Coach. She started her business Health Hope to support people with autoimmune disease as they change habits and move towards autoimmune wellness. In her past life she was an Edible publisher and is passionate about local food and cooking. She lives in Northern Indiana with her husband and is a mother to three children.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES | Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Churg Strauss Vasculitis
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