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Ashton Kutcher's Autoimmune Disorder Left Him Blind And Disabled: Know About Vasculitis Causes And Treatment

Ashton Kutcher recently spoke about his battle with vasculitis, an autoimmune disease that has affected his hearing, sight, and ability to walk for more than a year. As part of the show Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge, the 44-year-old actor discussed his health issues.

A video clip from the episode, shared by Access Hollywood, shows Ashton Kutcher saying, "Like two years ago, I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis, that like knocked out my vision, it knocked out my hearing, it knocked out like all my equilibrium."

And added, "You don't really appreciate it until it's gone; until you go, I don't know if I'm ever going be able to see again. I don't know if I'm going to be able to hear again; I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk again. I'm lucky to be alive."

What Is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is defined as the inflammation of the blood vessels [1]. When the blood vessels are inflamed, it causes the walls to thicken, narrowing the passageway width and restricting the blood flow, resulting in tissue and organ damage.

Vasculitis has many forms, many of which are rare. Vasculitis can affect a single organ or several. It may be a short-term or long-term condition.

Vasculitis can affect people of any age. In some cases, the disease affects blood vessels that supply specific organs, such as your skin, eyes, or brain. Some of the general forms of vasculitis may be mild and do not require treatment. However, there may also be severe cases.

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What Are The Types Of Vasculitis?

The following are the different types of vasculitis [2]:

  • Behcet's disease
  • Buerger's disease
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Takayasu's arteritis
  • The types of vasculitis are determined by the size of the blood vessels involved [3]:

    Small: Among these are Behcet's syndrome, Churg-Strauss syndrome, cutaneous vasculitis, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, microscopic polyangiitis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, golfer's vasculitis, and cryoglobulinemia.

    Medium: A few examples are Buerger's disease, cutaneous vasculitis, Kawasaki disease, and polyarteritis nodosa.

    Large: In this category are conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica, Takayasu's arteritis, and temporal arteritis.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Vasculitis?

    There are several general signs and symptoms of vasculitis, including the following [4]:

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Weight loss
    • General aches and pains
    • The following are other signs and symptoms associated with the parts of the body affected [5]:

      Ears: You may experience dizziness, ringing in the ears, and sudden hearing loss.

      Eyes: You may experience redness, itching, or burning in your eyes due to vasculitis. Double vision and temporary or permanent blindness can result from giant cell arteritis. Sometimes, this is the first sign of the disease.

      Digestive system: It can experience pain after eating if you have an affected stomach or intestines. In addition, there is a possibility of ulcers and perforations, which may result in blood in the stool.

      Hands or feet: Some types of vasculitis can cause numbness or weakness in the hands or feet. In addition, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet can become swollen or hardened.

      Lungs: When vasculitis affects your lungs, you may experience shortness of breath or cough up blood.

      Skin: Red spots may appear due to bleeding under the skin. You may also experience lumps on your skin or open sores due to vasculitis.

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What Causes Vasculitis?

Currently, there is no complete understanding of the cause of vasculitis. The genetic makeup of some individuals contributes to the development of certain types. There are also cases in which the immune system mistakenly attacks blood vessel cells. There are several possible triggers for this immune system reaction, including the following [6]:

  • Hepatitis B and C infections
  • Blood cancers
  • Immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma
  • Reactions to certain drugs
  • What Are The Risk Factors For Vasculitis?

    Vasculitis can affect anyone at any time. However, there are a number of factors that may increase the risk of certain disorders, including the following [7]:

    • Age: Kawasaki disease is most common in children under the age of 5 years. Giant cell arteritis rarely occurs before the age of 50.
    • Sex: It is more common in women to develop giant cell arteritis, whereas it is more common in men to develop Buerger's disease.
    • Family history: Kawasaki disease, Behcet's disease, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and granulomatosis with polyangiitis often run in families.
    • Lifestyle choices: Cocaine use can increase the risk of developing vasculitis. The risk of developing Buerger's disease increases for men younger than 45 who smoke tobacco.
    • Medications: Medications such as hydralazine, allopurinol, minocycline, and propylthiouracil can sometimes trigger vasculitis.
    • Infections: Infections such as hepatitis B or C can increase the risk of vasculitis.
    • Immune disorders: There is a greater risk of vasculitis in individuals who suffer from disorders in which their immune systems mistakenly attack their bodies. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma are a few examples.
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What Are The Complications Of Vasculitis?

Vasculitis complications vary according to the type and severity of the disease. The prescription medications you are taking to treat your condition may also have side effects. Vasculitis can lead to the following complications [8]:

  • Organ damage
  • Blood clots and aneurysms
  • Vision loss or blindness
  • Infections
  • How Is Vasculitis Diagnosed?

    In addition to asking about your medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination. Testing will be necessary to determine whether there is inflammation or to rule out other conditions. The following may be included [9]:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Heart tests
    • Biopsy
    • Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, PET scans, and ultrasounds
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What Is The Treatment For Vasculitis?

Vasculitis is treated by controlling the inflammation and treating any underlying conditions that may be triggering it [10].

Medications: The most common type of drug prescribed to treat vasculitis is a corticosteroid drug, such as prednisone. Corticosteroids, however, can have serious side effects, especially if taken for an extended period.

A combination of other medications may be prescribed with corticosteroids to control inflammation and reduce the dosage of corticosteroids more rapidly. Medications are prescribed based on the type of vasculitis present.

Surgery: Aneurysms are sometimes caused by vasculitis - an abnormal bulge in a blood vessel's wall. To reduce the risk of the bulge rupturing, surgery may be necessary. In addition, blocked arteries also may require surgical treatment.

What does vasculitis look like when it starts?

The most common vasculitis skin lesions are red or purple dots (petechiae), usually on the legs. In some cases, the spots look like large bruises the size of the tip of a finger (purple). Less common lesions of vasculitis include hives, itchy lumpy rashes, and painful or tender lumps.

Is vasculitis curable?

Currently, vasculitis is incurable, but early diagnosis and treatment can ease symptoms and slow the disease's progression.

Is vasculitis serious?

Vasculitis can have serious consequences. If your blood vessel becomes weak, it may stretch and bulge (known as an aneurysm). In addition, it may rupture, resulting in bleeding. There is a possibility that this could be life-threatening, but it is very rare.

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