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Severe Headache Could Signal Blood Vessel Inflammation Severe Headache Could Signal Blood Vessel Inflammation

Severe Headache Could Signal Blood Vessel Inflammation

Headaches • • MigraineSep 03, 2008

Severe and frequent headaches, especially in people who don’t typically have headaches, warrant a visit to the doctor.

The headaches could be a symptom of vasculitis - blood vessel inflammation. Vasculitis is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Depending on the type of vasculitis - there are more than a dozen - the disease can disrupt blood circulation and, in some cases, cause death, according to the September issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

In addition to headache, symptoms might include fever, fatigue, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, appetite loss, and numbness or weakness. Often, the exact cause of vasculitis isn’t known, although some forms can be linked to infections such as hepatitis B and C, as well as certain medications. 

Diagnosis usually involves blood tests and imaging studies of the blood vessels. It also may include a biopsy of an affected blood vessel or tissue.

Treatment depends on the type of vasculitis, its severity and the patient’s overall health. The anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroid medications such as prednisone and methylprednisolone often improve symptoms within days. Immune-suppressing and cytotoxic drugs are used when vasculitis is severe and does not respond to corticosteroids.

Thanks to drug treatments, some types of vasculitis that were once considered fatal can be managed or even go into remission. However, side effects with the medications are a concern. Some medications can increase the risk of serious infections and some cancers. A doctor who has training in this area, often a rheumatologist, can carefully monitor the prescribed medications, their benefits and side effects to best manage the illness.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today’s health and medical news.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Provided by ArmMed Media

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