Giant cell arteritis, also identified as temporal arteritis, is a type of inflammation of the arteries that causes them to narrow, reduce, and in some cases completely block the supply of blood to a particular area of the body. While it is possible for this condition to develop on any artery, it is more likely in the temporal region. If the blood supply to the eyes is affected, it can result in sudden blindness in one or even both the eyes. The loss of vision is typically very severe and in most cases, permanent. The bad news is that till date, there is no cure but symptoms can be relieved by prompt treatment and usually, vision loss in the other eye can be prevented if not already affected.
Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis
The sudden loss of vision in one eye without any pain followed by a similar event in the other eye around ten days later is conclusive proof of temporal arteritis. Other problems in vision like sudden double vision, color changes, flashing lights, and blurring are also symptoms. Patients are also known to have fever, generally feel unwell, have constant or intermittent mild to severe headaches, experience pain in the jaw or tongue while talking or chewing, have tender temples that may hurt while bushing hair, inflamed, red, and painful patches on the scalp, including alopecia or hair loss in a local area.
The Causes of Temporal Arteritis
According to https://www.vasculitisfoundation.org, the accurateorigin of giant cell arteritis is unknown; however, some scientists are of the opinion that it is one kind of autoimmune disorder. The following risk factors may be significant; age above 50, occurrence in twice as many females as males, more common in Caucasians and prevalence in the nations of northern Europe. Around half of the people who experience joint arteritis also suffer from polymyalgia rheumatica, which is not really a specific disease but a collection of symptoms like depression, fatigue, fever, night sweats, aching muscles, stiffness in the hips, shoulders, and neck, and loss of weight.
Since no cure has been identified, the treatment aims to limit the damage to the affected tissues. Since the speed of response is critical, typically doctors suspecting temporal arteritis will start drug treatment to preserve the vision of the other eye without waiting for the biopsy to be arranged. The normal treatment comprises the administration of corticosteroid drugs to provide symptomatic relief and prevent vision loss in the future. Once the symptoms are controlled, the dosage is reduced gradually to maintenance levels. Methotrexate may be introduced during the stage when corticosteroid drugs are being reduced. Additional medicines may be given to arrest bone density loss and its typical side effects like fractures, osteoporosis, and bone infections. Relapses are not unknown within one year of completing treatment but generally, temporal arteritis tends to get resolved within five years.
Giant cell arteritis occurs without notice and it is vital to diagnose it quickly and start the treatment. The condition requires long-term drug therapy and monitoring for the most effective resolution.
Kristen Smith is a health expert who has been running many health seminars and public discussions. She also manages her blog and reviews the health-related details provided by authentic sources. You can visit joint arteritis for more information.