What is Giant cell arteritis?
Giant cell arteritis is basically an inflammation of the lining which occurs on the arteries of the individual. But mostly this condition affects the arteries of the head and that too of the temples and mainly this is the reason that the other name, which is given to the giant cell arteritis is temporal arteritis also. This condition is mainly seen in the patients who are at least over the age of 50 years. It is also very closely observed that the problem of giant cell arteritis can sometimes actually overlap with a condition called polymyalgia rheumatic. Basically it is observed that around 5 to 15% of the patients who are suffering with the problem of Giant cell arteritis are also diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatic. So both these conditions can either occur at the same time or separately as a matter of fact.
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Causes for Giant cell arteritis
Even after doing a continuous research about this problem, the actual cause of Giant cell arteritis is basically still unknown. But basically doctors claim that one of the possible causes of this problem can be the ageing factor, but definitely a genetic element is involved in it, but that element is still not fully defined as such. Sometimes the highly stressful events for example bereavement are also a possible cause to actually trigger the illness. Sometimes an immune response is also observed in both the blood and also in the cell level as a matter of fact.
In the problem of Giant cell arteritis, it is basically said that the individuals body immune system attacks and so as a result it actually inflames the arteries.
What are the main symptoms of Giant cell arteritis?
The most common symptom of the Giant cell arteritis is basically the headache which mainly occurs in the area of temples. But it is very clearly stated, by the doctors that the patients who are suffering from headache can experience it anywhere be it in the front, top or back of the skull as such. Also the more common and the general symptoms of this disease is the unusual fatigue, sometimes the individual may have a loss of appetite, weight loss or the patient may have a flue like feeling. The patient might also suffer a pain in the jaw while chewing any food item. Basically the main indication of the problem of Giant cell arteritis is the recurring fever, so once a patient observes, that the problem of fever is becoming common in him, the patient without delaying further should immediately book an appointment with the doctor and get the treatment and the checkup done in just the right way.
source : Davidson medicine
But on the other hand, definitely the symptoms are different from individual to individual. Some of the rare symptoms of the Giant cell arteritis also includes the pain in the face ,throat or tongue as a matter of fact.
Also if by any chance the problem of Giant cell arteritis , spreads to the blood supply of the eye, then there are chances that the eye sight of the individual can be affected to a very large extend. Some of the visual symptoms can also include temporary blurring, double vision or the individual might also get completely blind. This particular condition when the individual all of a sudden experiences a complete loss in the vision can only happen to a person suffering from Giant cell arteritis. But if the treatment is taken at the right time, definitely there are positive chances that this problem can be controlled to some extent. In fact the results of many of the big researches done in this field very clearly claims that,if the vision of the individual suffering from this problem remains intact ,till the time the treatment of the Giant cell arteritis begins, then basically the risk of the loss in vision is 1 in 100 or even less as a matter of fact. But the patients who are suffering from the problem of polymyalgia rheumatic be it active or inactive, should immediately report all the symptoms of headache in the new areas of the body or any visual symptoms or pain in the jaws to their physicians immediately. The sooner the treatments starts in this condition, the better will be the condition of the patient. Hence one should not delay and once the above symptoms are diagnosed, the patient should be immediately taken to the doctor.
Possible treatment for Giant cell arteritis
Patients who are actually diagnosed with the problem of Giant cell arteritis, but especially those who are basically suspected of vascular complications like visual loss and so in such cases the treatment, in fact the therapy of the patient should start immediately. So a very common treatment for a person suffering from this condition is a temporal artery biopsy and this should in fact be obtained very soon as a matter of fact, but at the same time, it should be taken care that the treatment by no circumstance should actually be withheld, when the result of the biopsy is awaited.
In cases if there are no evidences of the artery biopsies, but at the same time if there is a clinical suspicion of the Giant cell artiritis ,then in such a situation the glucocorticoid treatment of the patient should be continued and should not be stopped in between until it is very clearly specified by the physician.
The problem of Giant cell arteritis can also be treated with the help of a high dose of prednisone. So by this treatment, the condition of the patient definitely carries some risk of the condition of blindness in the patient, so it is mostly suggested by the doctor that prednisone should actually be started as soon as possible, in fact the patient should start the intake of prednisone even before the complete confirmation of the diagnosis is actually made with the temporal artery biopsy as a matter of fact.
It is also seen in many of the cases that with polymyalgia rheumatica, the major symptoms of the Giant cell arterities very easily vanishes with the help of the right treatment, but the patient should continue taking a high dose of prednisone for at least for a period of 1 month regularly without any breaks.