Temporal Arteritis


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is temporal arteritis?

The inflammation of the blood vessel(s) is called vasculitis. Giant cell arteritis is an inflammation or damage to any of the medium- to large-sized arteries in the body. Since it usually affects the arteries that carry blood to your head, especially those that pass through your temples, it is generally called temporal arteritis.

Symptoms of Temporal Arteritis

The most common symptoms of temporal arteritis are head pain and tenderness—often severe—that usually affects both temples. Head pain can progressively worsen, repeat after intervals, or subside temporarily.

Generally, signs and symptoms of temporal arteritis include:

  • Persistent and severe head pain, usually in the area of the temples
  • Jaw pain when chewing or opening your mouth wide
  • Tenderness in your scalp
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of vision or double vision, particularly in people who have jaw pain
  • Unintended weight loss

Other related symptoms and PMR

Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders or hips are common symptoms of a related disorder, polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). About 50 percent of people with temporal arteritis also have polymyalgia rheumatica. Vision loss is not a feature of PMR. PMR may progress into temporal arteritis at a later stage. Some people believe that both PMR and temporal arteritis are different phases of the same disease.

Complications of Temporal Arteritis

Temporal Arteritis could be a cause of the following complications in people with the disease:

  • Dizziness, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), vertigo, and cerebrovascular accidents resulting from Inflammation of the posterior vertebral arteries
  • Sudden complete or partial loss of vision that can occur in as many as 60% of the people with the disease
  • Refractory dialysis-related hypotension (fall in blood pressure); Thoracic aneurysms can result by the inflammation of the aorta
  • Stroke, though uncommon, is another potential complication

Causes of temporal arteritis

In temporal arteritis, the lining of the medium to large-sized arteries becomes inflamed and leads to swelling. The swelling of the arteries narrows them, affecting the flow of blood and nutrients to the body’s tissues. It is not known what causes these arteries to become inflamed (and especially the ones in the head). Some think it is caused by an immune system response that affects the walls of these arteries. It might be caused also by genetic or environmental factors.

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of this disease. Some of them are:

  • Age: It affects adults only and generally people over the age of 50. Most people develop signs and symptoms associated with the disease between the ages of 70 and 80.
  • Sex: It is two times more likely to find women with this medical condition than men.
  • Race: It is generally found in white people of Northern Europe, who are of Scandinavian descent. It is very rarely found elsewhere.
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica: Having polymyalgia rheumatica puts you at increased risk of developing this disease.
  • Family History: Having a family history of temporal arteritis also increases the risk.

Diagnosis of Temporal Arteritis

A diagnosis based on just the symptoms alone in the early stage of the disease is difficult. This is because the symptoms of temporal arteritis are not very different from those of other common conditions. Your doctor might take note of your medical history and your symptoms. After this, he will conduct a thorough physical exam, paying attention in particular to your temporal arteries. Often one or both of the temporal arteries will be hard with a reduced pulse and a chord-like feel and appearance.

Your doctor might also perform certain blood and imaging tests just to be sure.

Blood tests

Blood tests help in diagnosing the condition and suggesting possible treatment. Both the tests are generally used together to yield more accurate results. They are:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This is also called a sed rate test. This measures the rate of fall of red blood cells to the bottom of a tube of blood.If red blood cells fall rapidly to the bottom of a tube of blood, it could indicate inflammation of the arteries.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP). It measures the quantity of a substance your liver produces when inflammation is present. The more elevated its measure, the greater the inflammation of the arteries and higher the probability of temporal arteritis.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests might be used in the diagnosis of temporal arteritis and the analysis of your response to treatment. Tests include:

  • Doppler ultrasound.This test uses sound waves to produce images of blood flowing through your blood vessels.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).This combines magnetic resonance imaging with the use of a contrast die to obtain images of your blood flow. If you have a fear of confined spaces, let the doctor know, because this test is conducted in a tube-shaped machine.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET).If your doctor suspects a case of temporal arteritis, he may conduct a PET scan. This involves the injection of an intravenous tracer solution that contains a tiny quantity of radioactive material. This helps produce a detailed image of your blood vessels and particularly highlight the areas of inflammation.

Biopsy

Biopsy is the best way to confirm a case of temporal arteritis. This is done by using a small sample of the temporal artery. The temporal artery runs underneath the skin starting from the front of the ears up until the scalp. Local anesthesia is used in the procedure and is done on an outpatient basis. It leads to little discomfort or scarring.

If you have temporal arteritis or giant cell arteritis, the sample will show inflammation of the cells of the artery. These cells affected by inflammation are abnormally larger as compared to other cells. Therefore, the condition is often referred to as giant cell arteritis. Your biopsy result may be negative and you might still have giant cell arteritis.

If the result is not clear, the doctor might advise another biopsy. This time it will be of the temporal artery on the other side of the head.

Treatment of temporal arteritis

There is no cure for temporal arteritis. The goal is to reduce the tissue damage that is caused by inadequate blood flow that is caused by the condition. The symptoms of temporal arteritis could resemble those of other common conditions. This is why even before a formal diagnosis is complete, the doctor might put you on oral corticosteroids that might help improve the condition. The steroid that is generally used is called prednisone. Lower doses of prednisone are successful in treating cases of polymyalgia rheumatica. Often, higher doses of prednisone are required to treat temporal arteritis.

Corticosteroids can increase the risk of other medical conditions such as:

Other potential side effects of corticosteroids include:

  • Weight gain
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Reduced immune system response
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Difficulty sleeping at night

The doctor might also prescribe aspirin for any musculoskeletal symptoms that you may be having.

If you are having any of these side effects, talk to your doctor and discuss how they can be minimized. Corticosteroid therapy generally lasts for 1–2 years and involves regular checkups as ordered by the doctor. These checkups help understand the body’s response to the treatment and the progress achieved.

Home remedies and lifestyle changes during treatment

Since the use of corticosteroids as part of the treatment can have a detrimental effect on your bones and other metabolic functions, the following recommendations are generally made:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Take Vitamin D and calcium tablets frequently
  • Avoid salt, sugar, and alcohol
  • Go in for bone density tests regularly
  • Go in for blood sugar tests regularly
  • Do some light exercise (may involve only walking sometimes) to keep your weight in check
  • Quit smoking
  • Take about 75–150 mg of aspirin daily if allowed by the doctor. This will help to lower the risk of stroke and blindness.

Because temporal arteritis can recur, you will still need to see a doctor even after the recommended course of treatment is complete.

Dos and Don’ts

Final Words

Temporal arteritis is an old man’s disease. Absent generally in younger adults, it is commonly found in people over 50 years of age, who are of Northern European descent. There is currently no cure for the condition, but corticosteroid therapy is successful in alleviating its symptoms.

It can help restore the body to a functional condition and reduce the damage to tissue. Even if treatment is successful, it is not all bright and sunny afterward, as the condition can recur. Regular consultation with your doctor means that complications can be avoided. There are some things you can do during the corticosteroid therapy in order to reduce its side effects. They have been mentioned in this article.

Facts

  • Temporal arteritis is the most common form of vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) seen in adults and generally affects the elderly. Its incidence rate is 15–35 out of every 100,000 people older than 50 years in studies conducted in Scandinavia, Minnesota (USA), and the UK.
  • The incidence is highest in Scandinavian countries that share a Viking ancestry. It is also similarly high in populations elsewhere descended from Scandinavians.

Facts

  • East Anglia in UK, which also showed a high incidence of temporal arteritis, is composed of people with a Viking ancestry.
  • The incidence is relatively low in Southern European countries because they have a different genetic background.

Facts

  • In addition, studies from Tennessee and Texas have reported a much lower prevalence of the disease in African Americans and Hispanics. There is also a low prevalence of temporal arteritis in Japan when compared to Northern Europe.
  • The communities in the US, which showed a high incidence of giant cell arteritis, were composed of migrants from Scandinavia.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take Vitamin D and Calcium tablets frequently during treatment.
  • Light exercise or walking to reduce weight gain during treatment.
  • Go in for bone density and blood sugar tests regularly to monitor their levels during treatment.
  • Take 75-150 mg of Aspirin to lower the risk of stroke.
  • Go for regular checkups and keep your doctor informed of your condition.
Don'ts
  • Smoke during corticosteroid treatment.
  • Eat foods with salt or sugar.
  • Consume alcohol.

 

 

 

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Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
antihepatitis core antigent
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…