Giant cell Arteritis is a neurological condition where the temporal arteries become inflamed. These arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the brain and heart. Although this condition occurs in the temporal arteries, but almost any artery in the body can be affected by this disease. Giant cell Arteritis or Temporal Arteritis affects nearly one-quarter million people in the US only. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to serious problems and can even cause a person’s death. If you think that you are suffering from giant cell arteritis, it is important to visit the doctor as soon as possible. Seeking immediate medical attention can reduce the complications. So if you have been diagnosed with giant cell arteritis, make sure you reach out to an experienced neurologist at the earliest.
Giant cell Arteritis Causes
In this condition, the lining of the arteries become inflamed and swell up. The swelled artery cause narrowing of the blood vessel thus reducing the amount of blood flow. This ultimately leads to a reduction in the amount of oxygen and important nutrients that travel to the body tissue. While the main cause of the inflamed arteries is not known, certain genes and their variations are known to give birth to this condition.
Giant cell Arteritis Symptoms
Temporal arteritis comes with a number of symptoms that are specific to this disease. Some of the symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Permanent Loss of Vision in One Eye.
- Weakness and Fatigue.
- Jaw Pain that Occurs in Chewing Food.
- Unintentional Weight Loss.
- Tenderness on Temple Area.
- Throbbing Headache.
- Double Vision.
Giant cell Arteritis Diagnosis
The neurologist will perform a number of tests to confirm where the tenderness in the head actually lies. Special attention is paid to the arteries in the head. You may be required to undergo several blood tests including the following tests:
- Hematocrit test: This test measure the blood percentage made up of red blood cells.
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test: The ESR test measures the rate at which the RBC’s collect at the bottom of the test tube. This test helps the doctor know whether there is an inflammation in the body or not!
- Liver Function Test: This test is done to determine the working of the liver.
- C – reactive protein Test: This test measures protein level made by the liver and released into your blood stream. Inflammation in the body is indicated by high protein level.
While these tests are really helpful in determining the disease, we cannot rely on a blood test alone. The neurologist will perform different tests to make a definitive diagnosis. An ultrasound scan, MRI or CT scan may not always come out to be helpful.
Risk Factors Attached
There are several risk factors that lead to the development of this neurological disorder. Some of them are:
- Sex: As compared to the male counterpart, women are more likely to develop this disorder.
- Age: This disorder rarely affects people who are under the age of 50. Warning signs are first seen in people after they attain the age of 60 years.
- Polymyalgia rheumatic: Having polymyalgia rheumatic increase your risk of attaining this disorder.
- Genetics: There have been certain incidences of this condition that proves that it runs in a family.
Giant cell arteritis Complications
If you are suffering from giant cell arteritis, you might experience the following complication at one point of time or the other.
- Aortic aneurysm: This complication can even occur in a person years after giant cell arteritis has been initially diagnosed.
- Blindness: Low blood flow to the eyes can create different problems such as painless vision loss, sudden loss of vision or more! Loss of vision in such situations is generally permanent.
- Stroke: This is one of the most uncommon complications of giant cell arteritis.
Giant cell Arteritis Treatment
Giant cell arteritis is a non-curable disease however the main motive behind the treatment of giant cell arteritis is to minimize tissue damage. Therefore, the treatment should begin as soon as the condition is suspected. Your doctor may ask a few questions to correctly diagnose the problem and in turn, you can even ask him few questions to clear your doubts. If the result is still pending, the doctor can prescribe few oral corticosteroids to prevent further spreading of the disease. Make sure you visit your doctor as soon as you feel that you are suffering from giant cell arteritis. As a part of the treatment, you should:
- Get Your Blood Sugar Checked.
- Do Weight Bearing Exercises.
- Quit Smoking.
- Get Bone Density Screening Done at Regular Interval.
- Take Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement.