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What is Wegener's Granulomatosis?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2018
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Wegener's granulomatosis is a medical condition in which a person's blood vessels become severely restricted due to the buildup of granuloma, inflamed masses of tissue that attach to the lining of vessels and internal organs. The exact causes of Wegener's granulomatosis are not well known by doctors, though recent medical research suggests that genetic conditions, infections, and exposure to harmful airborne substances might lead to the development of the disorder. Most people with the condition experience a number of telling symptoms, including nosebleeds, inflammation in the sinuses, fever, fatigue, and shortness of breath. An individual who believes he or she is experiencing symptoms should visit a licensed physician immediately, who can properly diagnose the disorder and determine the best plan for treatment.

Granuloma refers to a mass of cells produced by the body's immune system that help ward off bacteria and harmful substances in the body. In Wegener's granulomatosis, such cells are inexplicably produced in quantities large enough to cause blockage and severe inflammation in blood vessels. Doctors believe that granuloma begins to form in defense of existing inflamed, irritated tissue in the blood vessels, respiratory tract, heart, and lungs, though its presence does more harm than good to the body. Blood flow to vital organs is disrupted as granuloma tissue continues to build up on the lining of vessels.

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A person who experiences frequent runny noses, nosebleeds, fever, sinus and ear pain, and a persistent cough may be suffering from Wegener's granulomatosis. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, vision problems, and joint pain tend to worsen over time, causing significant discomfort and disrupting daily living. An individual may also experience difficulty breathing and chronic pain in his or her chest and lower back, which can lead to sleeping problems and fatigue. Severe complications can result if the condition goes untreated, including heart attacks, kidney failure, lung disease, and nervous system disorders.

Effective medical treatment is available to persons suffering from some or all of the symptoms of Wegener's granulomatosis. A doctor can prescribe an oral antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing drug to stop the spread of granuloma and relieve persistent symptoms. In cases where the disease has done irreparable damage to the kidneys or respiratory tract, invasive surgery may be required to remove the harmful tissue and reopen blood vessels.

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