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7 Telltale Signs of Vasculitis

7 Telltale Signs of Vasculitis

Vasculitis is a group of rare inflammatory conditions that happen when your immune system attacks your blood vessels. There are different types of vasculitis — some primarily affect adults, while others are more common among kids.

Researchers don’t know what causes vasculitis, and currently there’s no cure. However, there are ways to manage it, and not surprisingly, early diagnosis is critical. 

Since vasculitis involves your blood vessels, it’s not surprising that it can cause some very serious complications, especially if it’s not properly managed. In this post, our team helps patients at Houston Kidney Specialists Center identify seven possible symptoms of vasculitis, so treatment can begin as soon as possible.

1. Fatigue

Fatigue and persistent feelings of tiredness are common symptoms associated with vasculitis. That’s because the inflammation associated with vasculitis causes your organs to work harder and use more energy.

Often, this symptom is so severe, it can interfere with your everyday activities. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you get — you can feel fatigued even after a good night’s rest.

2. Weakness or numbness

Muscles and nerves require a regular supply of oxygen-rich blood to function properly. Vasculitis can inhibit circulation to your muscles and your nerves, preventing them from receiving that healthy supply of oxygen.

When that happens, nerves and muscles can malfunction, causing weakness or sensations of numbness. You may have problems with balance or coordination, or you might experience burning sensations or electricity-like shocks in the areas affected by vasculitis.

3. Rashes

While vasculitis often affects deeper blood vessels, it can cause problems with more superficial vessels, too. Vasculitis that affects vessels close to the surface of your skin is called cutaneous small-vessel vasculitis (CSV). In CSV, your skin becomes hypersensitive, developing an allergic-like reaction to medications or other substances.

Immune complex vasculitis usually causes a red, bumpy rash on the lower limbs, or a purplish rash that happens when tiny blood vessels leak under the skin. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) vasculitis causes a rash as a result of a buildup of the antibody IgA in the bloodstream. This rash looks like tiny red or purple bruises or dots.

4. Abdominal pain

When vasculitis affects the stomach, kidneys, or other abdominal organs, it frequently causes belly pain. Many people with this type of vasculitis have other symptoms, like nausea or vomiting.

Because so many medical issues can cause gastrointestinal problems, it’s always a good idea to have any persistent, recurrent, or worsening symptoms checked out by our team.

5. Joint pain

Joint pain is another potential symptom associated with vasculitis, and one that can easily be confused with arthritis or the aches and pains of “getting older.” Unfortunately, that confusion might prevent you from getting appropriate care as quickly as possible. 

In vasculitis, inflammation inside your blood vessels can cause inflammation inside your joints, too. You might have joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion, similar to the symptoms that can occur with arthritis.

6. Shortness of breath

Sometimes, vasculitis affects the blood vessels that support lung health and function. When that happens, your lungs may not “work” the way they’re supposed to, and they may not be able to take in or expel oxygen and other chemicals in a way that supports normal respiratory health.

Many people experience dyspnea or shortness of breath, making it difficult to perform many simple tasks without the feeling that you’re running out of breath or you can’t catch your breath. Vasculitis that affects lung function can also make it harder to perform daily tasks, taking a big toll on your quality of life.

7. Ulcers

Deep sores or ulcers are another type of skin manifestation often associated with certain types of vasculitis. Blood flow plays a major role in healing, and if vasculitis is interfering with your circulation, healing responses can be slower, too.

Even a small nick or scrape can turn into a deep, hard-to-heal sore or ulcer. Without proper care, infections can occur, eventually spreading to other parts of your body.

Vasculitis isn’t the only medical problem that causes these symptoms — and that’s why it’s so important to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible to ensure your care is tailored to your needs. To learn more, call 281-429-8780 or request an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center in Cypress or Houston, Texas, today. 

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