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What is vasculitis?

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Quick Answer

Vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels, according to Mayo Clinic. This inflammation changes the walls of blood vessels, which leads to potential tissue and organ damage. Vasculitis may affect different organs, vary in severity, last for different amounts of time and require different treatments.

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Full Answer

Vasculitis may cause blood vessels to stretch, weaken, expand, narrow or even completely close, explains WebMD. Vasculitis can affect the brain, eyes, skin, internal organs or multiple organs at one time. In rare cases, vasculitis causes an aneurysm. The cause of vasculitis in an individual is often unknown. Sometimes, vasculitis develops from an infection, medication, immune system disease or allergic reaction. Symptoms may be very specific due to the organs affected or as general as weight loss, fever or loss of energy.

Some of the various types of doctors who can treat vasculitis include neurologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists, notes Mayo Clinic. A doctor can diagnose vasculitis with various methods including imaging tests, blood tests, urine tests, biopsies and X-rays.

Vasculitis treatment depends on the affected organs and diagnosis but generally consists of the use of corticosteroid medications, states WebMD. Chemotherapy drugs may also be used in treatment. Proper treatment usually enables individuals with vasculitis to live a regular life span.

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