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  • Vasculitis can range from mild to life-threatening.
  • Early detection and treatment of severe vasculitis can prevent permanent damage. Detection of vasculitis most often requires biopsy of affected tissue or angiography.
  • Vasculitic diseases are inflammatory health problems that often need treatment with immunosuppressive drugs. The most common medication used is glucocorticoids.
  • Patients also may be prescribed other medicines that suppress the immune system. These can help severe disease or let patients take lower doses of glucocorticoids.

Vasculitis is a term for a group of rare diseases that have in common inflammation of blood vessels. These vessels include arteries and veins. There are many types of vasculitis, and they may vary greatly in symptoms, severity and duration. Most types of vasculitis are rare, and the causes are generally not known. Vasculitis affects persons of both sexes and all ages. A few forms of vasculitis affect certain groups of people. For instance, Kawasaki disease occurs only in children. IgA Vasculitis (Henoch-Schönlein) is much more common in children than adults. On the other hand, giant cell arteritis occurs only in adults over 50 years old.

Vasculitis can result in poor blood flow to tissues throughout the body, such as the lungs, nerves and skin. Thus, vasculitis has a wide range of signs and symptoms (what you see and feel), such as:

  • Shortness of breath and cough
  • Numbness or weakness in a hand or foot
  • Red spots on the skin (“purpura”), lumps (“nodules”) or sores (“ulcers”)

On the other hand, vasculitis of the kidneys may produce no symptoms at first but is still a serious problem. Vasculitis can be mild or disabling, or even lead to death. Patients can have one episode of vasculitis or have repeated episodes over several years. Most types of vasculitis are rare.

Source: American College of Rheumatology