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What is temporal arteritis?
Temporal arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis (GCA), is a condition where people’s arteries (tubes that move blood from the heart to other parts of the body) are swollen and narrowed. Temporal arteritis mostly occurs in the blood vessels near the temples. For that reason, the condition is called temporal arteritis. As far as heart-related disorders are concerned, temporal arteritis is the most common.
The term “giant cell arteritis” is used because when the cells of the swollen arteries are studied under a microscope, they appear as huge “giant cells.”
Temporal arteritis affects five people in every 10,000. If you suspect you might have it, you should seek medical attention urgently to prevent effects caused by a delayed diagnosis such as permanent vision loss.
Temporal arteritis is a disease where the arteries on the side of your head become swollen. Temporal arteries lie on your temples just behind your eyes. The swelling and narrowing of the arteries slow blood flow, causing a reduced supply of oxygen. This often leads to headaches and blindness if not addressed quickly.
Other temporal arteritis symptoms include:
- Regular headaches in the temple area
- Scalp tenderness
- Fever and fatigue
- Pain on the side of the head
- Jaw pain while chewing, opening your mouth wide, or talking
- Vision loss or double vision
If you notice any of these symptoms, seek help from the doctor as soon as possible.
Causes for temporal arteritis
The exact cause of temporal arteritis is unknown. However, during it, your immune system attacks the arteries. It is not known why and when the immune system attack occurs.
Who can get temporal arteritis
Temporal arteritis is a rare condition, with people above the age of 50 being more at risk of developing it. Women are also at a greater risk of getting it more than men.
Temporal arteritis occurs in people all over the world, but is common in Scandinavian people.
Diagnosis for temporal arteritis
To confirm a diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, your doctor will take a small sample (called a biopsy) of the temporal artery. They will locate this artery easily, as it is situated close to the skin just in front of your ears and continues up to your scalp.
Biopsy results make it easier to diagnose temporal arteritis, but your doctor will also consider your symptoms and may order more tests to make sure the diagnosis is correct.
Treatments for temporal arteritis
Temporal arteritis is a serious condition, but it is also controllable, treatable, and often curable.
Most people report improvement within one to three days of taking the medication. Occasionally, the patient can be admitted to a hospital after being medicated to be monitored as they receive additional tests. Monitoring the patient is highly recommended because of the side effects that come from prednisone.
The effects are weight gain, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, mood swings, cataracts, skin thinning, and muscle weakness. Most patients taking the medicine also take vitamin D supplements and calcium to help combat these side effects.
Another approved treatment for temporal arteritis is Actemra. It is given as a subcutaneous injection that can be self-administered once every one or two weeks. It can also be given as a monthly intravenous (IV) medication.
Complications and side effects of temporal arteritis
The most common condition that comes from people with temporal arteritis is polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). This causes pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints. If it develops, it often occurs after the development of temporal arteritis.
Typical symptoms of PMR are tenderness, pain, and stiffness of the upper arms and muscles on the shoulder. It may also occur around the hips and neck. It occurs due to the inflammation of muscles. The treatment is similar to that of temporal arteritis.
Side effects of prednisone
There are several common side effects of prednisone, including:
If you experience any of the more severe side effects listed below, talk to your doctor:
- Severe allergies like skin rash, itching, swelling face or tongue
- Mood swings and depression
- Eye pain or vision change
- Sore throat
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
- High blood sugars
- High blood pressure
If pregnant, you should take prednisone only if prescribed by the doctor. Children born by mothers receiving the medicine should be observed carefully for any signs of hypoadrenalism. Prednisone is passed through breast milk; therefore, while taking it, breastfeeding is not recommended.
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Brigham and Women’s Hospital: “Vision Loss due to Temporal Arteritis.”
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Top What Is the Best Treatment for Temporal Arteritis Related Articles
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA or Temporal Arteritis)Giant cell arteritis, inflammation of blood vessel walls, affects 10%-15% of polymyalgia rheumatica patients. Symptoms and signs of giant cell arteritis include fatigue, weight loss, low-grade fever, jaw pain when chewing, scalp tenderness, and headaches. High doses of cortisone medications are used to treat giant cell arteritis.
Polyarteritis NodosaPolyarteritis nodosa is a rare autoimmune disease characterized by spontaneous inflammation of the arteries of the body. The most common areas of involvement include the muscles, joints, intestines (bowels), nerves, kidneys, and skin. Poor function or pain in any of these organs can be a symptom. Polyarteritis nodosa is most common in middle age persons. Polyarteritis is a serious illness that can be fatal. Treatment is focused on decreasing the inflammation of the arteries by suppressing the immune system.
What Triggers Temporal Arteritis and Is It Serious?Temporal arteritis is a rare but serious autoimmune disorder. Learn the critical early signs of temporal arteritis, how temporal arteritis is diagnosed, and how temporal arteritis can be successfully treated.
Why Would You Have a Temporal Artery Biopsy?Temporal artery biopsy (TAB) is a procedure that involves removing a piece of the temporal artery for examination under a microscope. The temporal artery is a blood vessel at the temples. This artery is situated close to the skin just before the ears and continues up to the scalp.