What is it?

Vasculitis describes a group of diseases characterized by the inflammation of blood vessels, such as arteries, veins, and capillaries. Some forms of vasculitis may be localized to particular organs, while others may affect many organ systems. Different types of vasculitis are classified based on the size, type, or location of the affected blood vessel, and include:

  • Behcet’s Disease
  • Buerger’s Syndrome
  • Central Nervous System Vasculitis
  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Giant Cell Arteritis
  • Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
  • Hypersensitivity Vasculitis
  • Kawasaki Disease
  • Microscopic Polyangiitis
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Takayasu’s Arteritis
  • Wegener’s Granulomatosis

Who is at risk?

Vasculitis may occur in people of all ages, but different types of vasculitis may manifest in certain age groups more than others.


Symptoms of vasculitis vary significantly as any organ system may be affected. Presented here is a list of general symptoms associated with the affected organ systems:

  • Skin: purple or red spots; bruises; hives; itchiness
  • Joints: swollen, red, painful joints
  • Lungs: shortness of breath; coughing up blood
  • Gastrointestinal tract: mouth sores; stomach pain
  • Sinuses, nose, throat, ears: sinus or middle ear infection; sores
  • Eyes: burning, red, itchy eyes; sensitivity to light
  • Brain: headaches; decreased mental functions; weakness
  • Nerves: numbing; tingling; weakness; shooting pains in arms or legs
  • General symptoms: fatigue; fever; weight loss; loss of appetite


The cause of vasculitis remains unknown in most cases. In some cases, however, the disease may be attributed to recent or ongoing infections, an allergic reaction or medication.


Diagnosis of vasculitis involves blood and urine tests, biopsies of tissue, x-rays, and angiograms.



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