Temporal Arteritis Treatment in Abingdon, VA
What Is Temporal Arteritis?
Temporal arteritis, also known as cranial or giant cell arteritis (GCA), is an autoimmune disease and form of vasculitis characterized by inflammation of the arteries in the head, neck, and upper body. The condition specifically affects the temporal artery in the head, causing symptoms that include headaches and jaw pain.
GCA can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes; if left untreated, complications such as blindness or stroke can occur. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Abingdon who specializes in temporal arteritis treatment, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
What Causes Temporal Arteritis?
The exact cause of temporal arteritis is unknown; however, research indicates that the condition is related to an autoimmune reaction in which your immune system attacks healthy cells. This reaction causes inflammation in the lining of the medium-to-large arteries that supply blood to the head, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow to certain parts of the body.
Other potential temporal arteritis causes include:
- Certain medications
Various risk factors can increase your chance of developing temporal arteritis; women are twice as likely to develop GCA then men. Other risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 50
- Being of northern European descent
- Having a relative with temporal arteritis
- Having the disease polymyalgia rheumatica
What Are the Symptoms of Temporal Arteritis?
Temporal arteritis symptoms may arrive suddenly and can include fever or flu-like symptoms, weight loss, and weakness. The arteries and scalp may also become swollen, bumpy, tender, or lack a pulse.
Other common symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Throat or tongue pain
- Double or blurred vision
- Jaw pain, especially when chewing
- Shoulder or hip pain and stiffness
If the signs of temporal arteritis are left untreated, complications may arise and include:
- Heart attack
- A sudden, permanent loss of vision in one eye
- An aortic aneurysm, which can burst and cause internal bleeding
Temporal Arteritis Diagnosis
Temporal arteritis is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention. A healthcare professional will first conduct a physical exam and review your symptoms. Additional tests to detect temporal arteritis and monitor subsequent treatment can include a biopsy, as well as blood and imaging tests.
A biopsy is an outpatient procedure that utilizes local anesthesia and produces minimal scarring or discomfort. During the procedure, a sample of temporal artery is taken to be examined under a microscope for signs of inflammation and giant cell buildup.
Blood tests can check for signs of internal inflammation and may include:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test: measures how quickly red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube; red cells that drop rapidly may indicate inflammation
- C-reactive protein (CRP) test: the liver produces CRP when inflammation is present
- Hematocrit test: to measure the concentration of one’s red blood cells
- Hemoglobin test: measures the amount of this oxygen-carrying protein in the blood
Various imaging tests that can be used to make a temporal arteritis diagnosis and monitor ongoing treatment include:
- Doppler ultrasound, which uses sound waves to view blood flow
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), which uses a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a contrast material to view blood flow with more detail
- Positron emission tomography (PET), a test that uses an IV to inject a radioactive material into the blood vessels; this scan can create clearer images of your blood vessels and detect areas of inflammation
How to Treat Temporal Arteritis
Giant cell arteritis treatment can include a number of different medications and lifestyle changes. While GCA cannot be cured, early intervention can minimize tissue damage and complications caused by the disease.
One of the most common GCA medications is oral corticosteroids—such as prednisone—to reduce inflammation and treat polymyalgia rheumatica. Doses will begin immediately, even before a GCA diagnosis is confirmed, and last for one to two years. Your healthcare provider will taper down your dose as time goes by and symptoms dissipate. However, long-term use of corticosteroids can have serious side effects, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider if steroid treatment is right for you, and if so, how long it should be used.
Other medications can include:
- Low doses of aspirin to prevent heart attacks and stroke
- Proton pump inhibitor (PPI), taken alongside steroids and aspirin, to reduce stomach acid and prevent an ulcer
- Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) to reduce the risk of blindness or stroke
- Biologic medicines, such as methotrexate, suppress the immune system and might be helpful, though more research is needed
Only take medications prescribed to you by your healthcare provider, as certain medications or combination of medications can cause long-term adverse health effects.
In addition to medications, there are also various lifestyle changes that can help to treat temporal arteritis, such as:
- Exercise and/or weight loss
- Practice healthy sleep habits
- Avoid smoking or excessive drinking
- Take dietary supplements which support immune health
- Receive regular bone density screenings and blood sugar checks
- Limit your salt, caffeine, and sugar intake, as well as your intake of processed and refined foods
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet of whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish
Temporal arteritis can cause much more serious problems than a headache. To make an appointment with a healthcare practitioner who specializes in temporal arteritis treatment in Abingdon, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
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