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Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis: Symptoms, Definition & Treatment

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a condition that causes pain, inflammation, and swelling in the blood vessels throughout the body. Learn about the symptoms, definition, and treatment of this condition.

Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis

Dave is a 47-year-old electrician who has had symptoms of a respiratory tract infection over the past several weeks, including a runny nose, congestion, cough, fever, and fatigue. He first thought these symptoms were nothing serious and would eventually go away on their own. But after several weeks of suffering from these symptoms, Dave began to think it was something more serious and decided to go to his doctor to get checked out. After running several tests, the doctor informed Dave that he had granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in various blood vessels throughout the body, particularly the blood vessels in the respiratory tract, which includes the nose, throat, and lungs. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis can also affect the blood vessels in the kidneys as well. This condition was formerly known as Wegener's Granulomatosis (WG).

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis causes inflammation in the blood vessels of the respiratory tract, including the lungs, nose, and throat.
lungs

Although this condition is quite rare, it can have serious complications including life-threatening kidney and lung damage. The true cause of granulomatosis with polyangiitis is currently unknown. However, it is believed to be the result of the body's irregular and overactive immune response to an infection in the body. A normal immune response to an infection will include the production of inflammation to help the body fight the infection. However, an overactive immune response may cause widespread inflammation throughout the body which can lead to damaged tissues and organs.

Symptoms

Symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis are very similar to symptoms of a respiratory tract infection or cold. These symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Ear infections
  • Cough

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis that reaches the kidneys may cause blood in the urine and eventually lead to life-threatening kidney failure. Other possible complications of this condition include heart disease and hearing loss.

Symptoms of this condition are similar to the symptoms of a respiratory tract infection or cold, including runny nose and congestion.
runny nose

Treatment

Because granulomatosis with polyangiitis can potentially lead to life-threatening complications, it is very important that a person with this condition receive immediate and proper medical care. Treatment will usually include various medications to treat the widespread inflammation of the blood vessels.

Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are given to decrease the inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels throughout the body. Since granulomatosis with polyangiitis is thought to be the result of an overactive immune response to an infection in the body, other medications used to suppress or decrease the immune response may also be used. Methotrexate is an example of a medication that suppresses the immune system.

Once the symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis originally improve, there is a good chance of these symptoms coming back. Therefore, it is important for people to continue taking these medications for a long duration, even after the symptoms first improve, in order to help prevent this relapse. Usually, this condition will go away for good after a few months of taking proper medications.

Treatment for granulomatosis with polyangiitis usually involves taking medication to treat the inflammation and to suppress the immune system
medication

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