Vasculitis is redness and swelling (inflammation) of the system of small tubes that carry blood throughout your body (vessels, arteries, veins and capillaries). This inflammation can cause these tubes to become weak and narrow, leading to a blockage which will cut off blood supply to an area of the body. Vasculitis can affect any area of the body, leading to damage of any organ or tissue.
The symptoms of vasculitis vary depending on which organ or tissue is affected. Symptoms may include a rash, muscle weakness, fever, weight loss, general fatigue, kidney failure, heart attack or stroke. Vasculitis can be diagnosed by your doctor using a combination of your health history, physical exam, blood and urine tests to look for signs of inflammation or organ damage, imaging tests (x-ray, CT or MRI) to look for inflammation and organ damage, and removal of a small piece of affected tissue (biopsy) to look for signs of vasculitis.
Treatment options depends on which tissue or organ is affected. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary and the inflammation will go away on its own. Other times, medications may be necessary to prevent further damage and relieve symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with vasculitis, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are a good resource for additional information.