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Temporal Arteritis

What is Temporal Arteritis?

Temporal arteries are the blood vessels around the temple (side of the head behind the eyes) that supply blood to the head and brain. Temporal arteritis is a condition in which these blood vessels are damaged or inflamed.

What Causes Temporal Arteritis?

The exact cause of this condition is not known but it may be caused by a faulty immune response, high doses of antibiotics, or severe infections.

What are the Symptoms of Temporal Arteritis?

The symptoms of temporal arteritis include:

  • Reduced, double or blurred vision
  • Sudden and permanent loss of sight
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Throbbing headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Shoulder and hip pain, and stiffness
  • Tenderness in the scalp and temple areas

How is Temporal Arteritis Diagnosed?

Initial diagnosis includes a physical examination of the head, followed by blood tests. A definite diagnosis is made with a biopsy – studying a sample of the suspected artery in the laboratory. Imaging tests such as MRI, ultrasound scans and PET scan (positron emission tomography scan) may also be ordered. Early diagnosis is imperative for successful treatment.

How is Temporal Arteritis Treated?

Temporal arteritis cannot be reversed, but can be reduced by minimizing the damage caused to tissues by the inadequate blood flow. Your doctor prescribes corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications for immediate use, which need to be taken for about a year or two. However, this treatment may have adverse effects on your bones over a period of time. To avoid these effects, it is better to take a few precautions, such as avoiding alcohol and smoking, taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, and having regular checkups with your doctor.

What are the Complications of Temporal Arteritis?

If not treated, temporal arteritis is associated with certain risks and complications which include:

  • Development of aortic aneurysms
  • Loss of vision
  • Blindness
  • Stroke
  • Weakness of the eye muscle
  • Inflammation and damage to other blood vessels in the body