Pediatric Vasculitis

March 26, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Receiving a medical diagnosis for a serious health condition can feel frightening and overwhelming. The feelings are multiplied when the person with the disease is your child. What does it all mean? How did it happen? What does treatment entail? All these questions rush through your mind as you try to accept this new reality and start to plan how to make things as comfortable as possible for your loved one. And, when it comes to a condition that affects blood vessels — such as pediatric vasculitis — you may be wondering how it can affect someone so young.

What is pediatric vasculitis?

Vasculitis is a condition that causes blood vessels to become thickened, narrowed, or scarred. As a result, blood flow is restricted — and it can result in organ damage. It may be acute (short-term) or chronic. It’s also known as angiitis and/or arteritis. It can affect any age group, although it’s rare in children.

What causes pediatric vasculitis?

Pediatric vasculitis is an autoimmune disorder — which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. The exact cause of vasculitis is unknown. However, children who already have other autoimmune diseases — such as lupusHashimoto’s disease, or scleroderma — are more likely to develop it.

Types of Pediatric Vasculitis

The two most common types of vasculitis in children are the following:

1. Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP)

This type of vasculitis affects small blood vessels, causing a purplish skin rash called purpura. In addition, it affects the small vessels in the joints, intestines, and kidneys. Other symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and aching joints. In more serious cases, it could cause kidney damage. Most children with HSP are between the ages of two and six.

2. Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease affects small and medium vessels throughout the entire body. In more serious cases, it can also affect the coronary arteries — which are the blood vessels that supply blood to and from the heart. As a result, it may cause arrhythmia or a heart attack.

There are other types of vasculitis, but they mostly affect adults. In very rare instances, it could affect children. These other modalities of the condition are:

  • Churg-Strauss Syndrome
  • Microscopic Polyangiitis
  • Primary Angiitis of the Central Nervous System (PACNS)
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN)
  • Takayasu Arteritis
  • Wegener Granulomatosis

Pediatric Vasculitis Symptoms

Symptoms of pediatric vasculitis may vary depending on the part of the body that’s being affected. However, generally speaking, children with any type of vasculitis may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aches all over their body
  • Weight loss

Diagnosing Pediatric Vasculitis

Pediatric vasculitis is diagnosed by a rheumatologist — a pediatrician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and autoimmune disorders. Diagnosis is done through blood and urine tests, as well as imaging tests — such as x-rays of your blood vessels (angiography), a CT scan, or an MRI. In some cases, doctors will take a biopsy of the affected tissue.

Pediatric Vasculitis Treatment

Treatment involves anti-inflammatory prescription medications, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone. The type of medication will depend on the type of vasculitis and health history. In very rare cases, vasculitis may cause an aneurysm on the wall of a blood vessel. When such is the case, surgery is necessary to remove it.

Pediatric Vasculitis Risk Factors

Pediatric vasculitis is more likely to occur in children who have recently experienced a viral infection, a severe allergic reaction, or a family history of the condition

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child who has pediatric vasculitis. Home health care providers offer the support you or your loved one needs.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call us today at (888) 592-5855.