Churg-Strauss Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are symptoms of Churg-Strauss syndrome?

Churg-Strauss syndrome causes fever, weight loss, and sinus or nasal passage inflammation in the patient with asthma. Fatigue is common. Sometimes the asthma actually improves somewhat as the disease intensifies elsewhere. Cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain can occur as the lungs are affected by vasculitis.

Skin lumps, called nodules, can appear on the extremities. Diarrhea and pain in the belly occur due to blood vessel inflammation within the abdomen. The bladder and prostate gland can become inflamed.

Numbness or weakness of the extremities is the result of nerve injury from the vasculitis. If the brain is affected, seizures or confusion can occur.

How is Churg-Strauss syndrome diagnosed?

Churg-Strauss syndrome is suggested when the symptoms described above occur in a patient with a history of asthma.

Abnormalities of the lungs, skin, and nerves might be noted by the doctor during the examination. Blood pressure can be elevated.

Blood examination generally shows elevated levels of an uncommon white blood cell, called an eosinophil, and other white blood cells are also elevated in number. Kidney function blood tests and urinalysis can be abnormal when the kidneys are affected (which is not common).

If the lungs are inflamed, the chest x-ray image or CT scan of the chest can demonstrate areas of inflammation.

The ultimate test for the diagnosis is a biopsy of involved tissue, which demonstrates a characteristic pattern of inflammation visible under a microscope. Eosinophil are also seen accumulated in the abnormal tissue.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/18/2015

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