Q:

What causes vasculitis?

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Quick Answer

As of 2015, the exact cause of vasculitis is unclear, but experts link this condition with genetics and attack of blood vessels by the immune system, reports Mayo Clinic. Blood cancers, hepatitis B and C, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis may trigger the immune system response, causing vasculitis.

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Full Answer

In a person with vasculitis, the blood vessels become inflamed, narrow and their walls thicken. This causes an insufficient flow of oxygenated blood and nutrients to parts of the body, reports Medical News Today. Vasculitis can occur after an infection, triggering an abnormal response of the immune system, notes WebMD.

Vasculitis can occur as Behcet's disease, which is a condition characterized by episodes of dermatitis, uveoretinitis, oral ulcers and ulcers on the vulva, explains Medicine News Today. It can also occur as Buerger's disease, a condition in which blood clots block the blood vessels in the legs and arms, damaging skin tissues. Vasculitis may also involve the spinal cord, the brain, upper respiratory tract and the aorta, and it can cause inflammation of small veins and arteries in people with histories of asthma or allergies.

Vasculitis may cause heart attack, stroke, weight loss and kidney failure, states WebMD. Treatment depends on the affected organs, and vasculitis from an allergic reaction may not require any treatment. Treatment includes corticosteroid medications and chemotherapy.

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