What is Vaculitis, who can get it and what are the warning signs?
The different types of Vasculitis are classified as to whether they mainly affect small, medium sized or large blood vessels. The main issue with this vascular disease is that it will effect and attack other parts of the body, the most serious being the heart, lungs and the kidneys, and if the Vasculitis is left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to organ damage and even organ failure.This is sadly what happened to my mum, who now lives with kidney failure, amongst other illness caused by Vasculitis.
Typically the initial warning signs have fluctuating symptoms including tiredness, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, fevers, sweats and weight loss. Then there are features of a particular part of the body being affected. This is obvious if it is a skin rash.
Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Wegener’s) and Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss) affect the nose, sinuses and ears with nasal stuffiness, bleeding, sinus pain and deafness. Lung involvement could cause cough, wheeze, coughing blood or breathlessness. Kidney damage has no obvious symptoms until the kidneys are badly damaged, but can be detected at an early stage by a simple urine 'dip stick' test.
The sad truth is anyone can have Vasculitis, it's not contagious but something in your genetics. It is usually triggered by a general virus you've had, in my mum's case it was an ear infection, and can be overlooked by patients and doctors.
Nearly 20,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a type of Vasculitis each year and there is no cure, only ways to manage it which means a lifetime on harsh medication.
Find out more by watching this video presented by Dr. Hilary Jones.
How can you help?
The main way you can help is to raise awareness of Vasculitis and make sure you know the warning signs so maybe you could spot it early in yourself or those close to you.
The other way you can help is to donate to a Vasculitis charity, such as the Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation, which is dedicated to helping those effected and their families and to fund research into a cure.
My mum's story
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, and please spread the word and the awareness of Vasculitis this May.
By Carina Sullivan