Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels. It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the blood vessels by mistake. The inflammation of a blood vessel means that the blood vessel may be narrowed or closed off. In small number of cases, the blood vessel can bulge, known as an aneurysm.

Vasculitis can affect any blood vessel, i.e. arteries, veins, and capillaries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the organs. Veins carry blood from the organs and limbs back to the heart. Capillaries connect the small arteries and veins.

Depending on the type of blood vessel affected, there are three types of vasculitis, each with specific conditions:

  1. Mostly Large Vessel Vasculitis, which includes: Behcet’s disease, Cogan’s syndrome, Giant cell arteritis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Takayasu’s Arteritis
  2. Mostly Medium vessel vasculitis, which includes: Buerger’s disease, Central nervous system vasculitis, Kawasaki disease, Polyarteritis Nodosa
  3. Mostly small vessel vasculitis, which includes: Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with polyangititis, Cryoglobulinemia vasculitis, IgA Vasculitis, Hypersensitivity Vasculitis, Microscopic polyangiitis

Vasculitis can also be chronic or acute.



The exact cause of vasculitis is unknown. The known triggers are:

  • Infections, including hepatitis B and C
  • medications
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • another immune system disease or conditions



The symptoms of vasculitis can vary, depending on the type of vasculitis. Generally, inflammation involves pain, redness, swelling, and loss of function in the affected tissues. Other symptoms are:

  • feeling unwell with fever
  • sweats
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • skin – spots or ulcers
  • nose – nosebleeds or in some cases, change of its shape
  • nerve problems
  • headaches
  • loss of pulse in the limbs



Complications of vasculitis depend on the type and severity. These are:

  • blood clots and aneurysms
  • blindness
  • infections
  • damage of organs