What Is Giant Cell Arteritis?

Giant cell arteritis is a condition in which the arterial lining becomes inflamed, according to Mayo Clinic. Typically, the inflamed arteries are located in the temple region of the head. Giant cell arteritis is also known as temporal arteritis. Although the cause of giant cell arteritis is unknown as of 2015, people aged 70 years and above and women are more vulnerable to this condition. Polymyalgia rheumatica is another factor that predisposes an individual to giant cell arteritis.

Although patients of giant cell arteritis may experience different symptoms and signs, patients commonly experience pain and tenderness in one or both temples, states Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms of giant cell arteritis include vision loss, fever and jaw claudication, which usually occurs when chewing or opening the mouth widely. Patients should seek immediate medical attention when symptoms of giant cell arteritis appear to ensure early diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Early treatment helps prevent possible complications such as blindness, stroke and aortic aneurysm.

To treat giant cell arteritis, doctors prescribe corticosteroid drugs, which fight inflammation, explains Mayo Clinic. However, such drugs may result in hypertension, glaucoma, increase in weight and osteoporosis. Corticosteroids also weaken the muscles and immune system and elevate blood glucose, which predisposes the user to diabetes.