What is Hypersensitivity Vasculitis? A Guide for Sufferers, Caregivers and Medical Professionals

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Hypersensitivity vasculitis (HSV) is a relatively new term in the world of blood vessel diseases. It was first described in the 1980s and its more common name, hypersensitivity vasculitis, was coined around the same time. Its symptoms are varied and may be mild or severe, depending on which organs are affected by the disease. HSV can affect anyone of any age, but it most commonly affects young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. The condition is not fully understood by medical professionals and is often misdiagnosed as a result. However, there is no known cure for hypersensitivity vasculitis as yet, so treatment must focus on relieving symptoms and making sufferers as comfortable as possible. Here we will look at what hypersensitivity vasculitis is, causes, symptoms and the progression of the disease.

What is Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Hypersensitivity vasculitis (HSV) is a rare type of vasculitis that causes inflammation in different parts of the body. It is an immune system disorder, in which the body overreacts to a variety of stimuli (such as proteins found in the blood) and causes an excessive immune response. HSV occurs when the blood vessels are hypersensitive to various stimuli, which triggers a destructive immune response known as vasculitis. Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels. Vasculitis can affect any part of the body, but the most common sites are the kidneys, brain, skin, and eyes. Other organs can be severely affected if the disease progresses.

Causes of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

– Viral Infection – Hypersensitivity vasculitis is more likely to develop in people who have had a viral infection in the past and have had an increased response to the infection. This increased response can lead to hypersensitivity vasculitis. – Infectious Mononucleosis – People with infectious mononucleosis are at an increased risk of developing hypersensitivity vasculitis if they have a weakened immune system. – Autoimmune Disease – People with an autoimmune disease such as lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis are also at an increased risk of developing hypersensitivity vasculitis. – Certain Drugs – People who are taking certain drugs, such as steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are at an increased risk of developing hypersensitivity vasculitis.

Signs and symptoms of hypersensitivity vasculitis

Symptoms of hypersensitivity vasculitis may vary widely, depending on which organs are affected by the disease. People with vasculitis may experience the following signs and symptoms: – Skin lesions – The skin lesions associated with hypersensitivity vasculitis are usually small, red or purple spots that are itchy and may cause swelling. – Eyes – The eyes may be involved in hypersensitivity vasculitis. The common symptoms of eyes include redness, itching, inflammation and swelling of the eyelids. – Mouth – The mouth is often involved in hypersensitivity vasculitis. Common symptoms of the mouth include redness, swelling and inflammation. – Kidneys – The kidneys are often involved in hypersensitivity vasculitis, and people with the disease may experience symptoms such as kidney inflammation, pain, infections, high blood pressure and low blood pressure. – Lungs – The lungs may be involved in hypersensitivity vasculitis. Symptoms of the lungs include pain, breathing difficulties, and chest infections.

Clinical progression of HSV

HSV can affect any organ in the body, but the most common sites of disease are the eyes, skin and kidneys. The onset of symptoms of vasculitis, such as skin lesions, eyes, mouth and kidney involvement, can occur gradually over weeks to months. People with hypersensitivity vasculitis may have a more severe form of the disease, known as nephritis, in which the kidneys are seriously affected. Nephritis is also a long-term condition and is likely to be life-threatening. In some cases, HSV can cause severe neurological damage. This can occur in people who have contracted the disease by having an open wound on their head. Signs that HSV has affected the nervous system include headache, dizziness, disturbances of vision, confusion and seizures.

A prolonged course of HSV

HSV can cause a prolonged course of the disease and can lead to long-term kidney damage, which can be life-threatening. In some cases, HSV can cause severe neurological damage. This can occur in people who have contracted the disease by having an open wound on their head. Signs that HSV has affected the nervous system include headache, dizziness, disturbances of vision, confusion and seizures.

Progression to severe disease

HSV can affect any part of the body and the most common sites of disease are the eyes, skin and kidneys. However, it can also cause severe damage to the brain and lungs. Signs of severe disease include difficulty breathing, abnormal breathing patterns and shortness of breath.

Other forms of vasculitis

HSV is the most common form of vasculitis that occurs in young adults. However, it can affect anyone of any age, so it is important to be aware of the condition. Other forms of vasculitis include: – Wegener’s disease – Wegener’s disease is an inflammation of the small blood vessels in the skin. – Polyarteritis nodosa – Polyarteritis nodosa is a long-term condition in which the small blood vessels are damaged over time by a virus or a bacterial infection.

Diagnosis of hypersensitivity vasculitis

There is no known cure for hypersensitivity vasculitis. The condition is currently only diagnosed by looking at the patient’s symptoms, medical history and examination of their blood vessels. It may also be possible to confirm HSV with a skin biopsy or biopsy of the eye. It is important to be aware that many people with HSV do not experience any symptoms and do not realise that they have the disease. Hypersensitivity vasculitis is a relatively new term in the world of blood vessel diseases. It was first described in the 1980s and its more common name, hypersensitivity vasculitis, was coined around the same time. There is no known cure for hypersensitivity vasculitis as yet, so treatment must focus on relieving symptoms and making sufferers as comfortable as possible.

Treatments for hypersensitive vasculitis

There is currently no cure for hypersensitivity vasculitis, but treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms of the disease, such as skin lesions, eye infections, mouth infections and kidney involvement. Antibiotics: Antibiotics such as rifampicin and ciprofloxacin can be used to treat skin and eye infections caused by bacteria. Painkillers: Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken to relieve the pain caused by kidney inflammation. Anti-viral drugs: Anti-viral drugs such as acyclovir and famotidine can be used to treat infections of the mouth and skin caused by viruses.

Research on the causes, symptoms and progression of hypersensitivity vasculitis

There is currently a lot of research going on into the causes, symptoms and progression of hypersensitivity vasculitis. Many of these studies are being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). These two institutes are funding research in order to better understand the causes of vasculitis and to find better treatments for the disease. The NIH-funded studies focus on identifying what triggers the immune system to overreact in people with hypersensitivity vasculitis. For example, some studies look at what proteins in the blood trigger the immune system to overreact. Other studies look for viruses that cause hypersensitivity vasculitis.

Conclusion

HSV is a rare condition that affects the blood vessels. It can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, from skin lesions and eye infections to kidney damage. HSV is usually only diagnosed by looking at the blood vessels, but there are some tests that can help rule it out, such as looking for signs of bacterial or viral infections.

More info on: Hypersensitivity Vasculitis – Vasculitis UK

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