Actor Ashton Kutcher had a “weird, super rare form of vasculitis” two years ago that “knocked out” his vision, hearing, and “all my equilibrium”.
What is vasculitis?
- Vasculitis is simply an inflammation of blood vessels.
- Inflammation is the natural response of the body’s immune system to any injury or infection, which in normal course can help the body fight invading germs. However, in vasculitis, the body’s immune system turns on healthy blood vessels, causing them to swell up and narrow down.
- According to the UK’s National Health Service, the trigger for vasculitis may be an infection or a drug, although the precise reason is often uncertain or unknown.
- Vasculitis can be only a minor problem affecting the skin, or it can, like in the case of Kutcher, be a serious condition that impacts the heart, kidneys or other vital organs.
What are the different kinds of vasculitis?
- According to the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center, there are around 20 different disorders that are classified as vasculitis. Angiitis and Arteritis are used as synonyms for vasculitis, literally meaning “inflammation within blood vessels” or “inflammation in arteries.” Because there are so many types of vasculitis, the group is sometimes referred to in the plural.
- Some of the diseases associated with vasculitis are Behcet’s Disease, which is characterised by oral and genital ulcers and eye inflammation; Buerger’s Disease, which mainly affects smokers and leads to decreased flow of blood to the hands and feet; and EGPA, which is associated with asthma, sinusitis, and tends to involve the lungs, kidneys, and heart as well.
How is vasculitis treated?
Different types of inflammation cause different diseases, which have their own symptoms and treatment protocols. Steroids are frequently prescribed, as are some other medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system. Health organisations caution that some kinds of vasculitis can become serious problems if not treated.