SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
General signs and symptoms common to most vasculitis types
The signs and symptoms of vasculitis vary depending on which blood vessels and, as a result, which organ systems are affected. However, general signs and symptoms that many people with vasculitis experience include:
- Weight loss
- Muscle and joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nerve problems, such as numbness or weakness
Signs and symptoms for some types of vasculitis
- Behcet's syndrome. This condition causes inflammation of your arteries and veins, and often appears in your 20s and 30s. Signs and symptoms include mouth and genital ulcers, eye inflammation, and acne-like lesions on your skin.
- Buerger's disease. Also called thromboangiitis obliterans, this condition causes inflammation and clots in the blood vessels in your extremities. Signs and symptoms can include pain in your hands, arms, feet and legs, and ulcers on your fingers and toes. This disorder is strongly associated with cigarette smoking.
- Churg-Strauss syndrome. This condition, also known as allergic granulomatosis and allergic angiitis, most commonly affects the blood vessels in your lungs. It's often associated with asthma.
- Cryoglobulinemia. This condition is often associated with hepatitis C infections. Signs and symptoms include a rash called purpura on your lower extremities, arthritis, weakness and nerve damage (neuropathy).
- Giant cell arteritis. This condition, which usually occurs in people older than 50, is an inflammation of the arteries in your head, especially your temples. Giant cell arteritis can cause headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain while chewing, blurred or double vision, and even blindness. Giant cell arteritis is often associated with another type of inflammatory condition called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). PMR causes pain in and inflammation of the large joints, such as your shoulders and hips. Signs and symptoms include pain and stiffness in the muscles of your hips, thighs, shoulders, upper arms and neck.
- Henoch-Schonlein purpura. This condition is caused by inflammation of the blood vessels of your skin, joints, bowel and kidneys. Signs and symptoms can include abdominal pain, blood in the urine, joint pain, and a rash called purpura on your buttocks, legs and feet. Henoch-Schonlein usually affects children, but it can occur at any age.
- Hypersensitivity vasculitis. The primary sign of hypersensitivity vasculitis is red spots on your skin. It can be triggered by an allergy, most often to a medication or an infection.
- Kawasaki disease. Also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, this condition most often affects children younger than 5 years of age. Signs and symptoms include fever, skin rash and eye inflammation.
- Microscopic polyangiitis. This form of vasculitis affects small-sized blood vessels in your kidneys, lungs and skin. Signs and symptoms include skin lesions, fever, unintentional weight loss, glomerulonephritis — inflammation of the small blood vessels in the kidneys — and nerve damage.
- Polyarteritis nodosa. This form of vasculitis affects medium-sized blood vessels in many different parts of the body, including your skin, heart, kidneys, peripheral nerves, muscles and intestines. Signs and symptoms include a rash called purpura, skin ulcers, muscle and joint pain, abdominal pain, and kidney problems.
- Takayasu's arteritis. This form of vasculitis includes the largest arteries in the body, including the aorta, and typically occurs in young women. Signs and symptoms include a feeling of numbness or cold in the extremities, decreased or absent pulses, high blood pressure, headaches, and visual disturbances.
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's). Formerly known as Wegener's granulomatosis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis causes inflammation of the blood vessels in your nose, sinuses, throat, lungs and kidneys. Signs and symptoms can include nasal stuffiness, chronic sinus infections and nosebleeds. The kidneys are often affected, though most people won't have any noticeable symptoms until the damage is more advanced.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
- What is vasculitis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/vas/. Accessed Sept. 9, 2011.
- Sharma P, et al. Systemic vasculitis. American Family Physician. 2011;83:556.
- Langford CA. Vasculitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2010;125:S216.
- Langford CA, et al. The vasculitis syndromes. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9138083. Accessed Sept. 9, 2011.
- Miller A, et al. An approach to the diagnosis and management of systemic vasculitis. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2010;160:143.
- Rituxan (prescribing information). San Francisco, Calif.: Genentech; 2011. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/103705s5344lbl.pdf. Accessed Sept. 19, 2011.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 19, 2011.
- Falk RJ, et al. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's): An alternative name for Wegener's granulomatosis. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2011;63:863.