What causes vasculitis? Ashton Kutcher battles rare autoimmune disease

Ashton Kutcher opened up this week about having contracted a rare autoimmune disease.

The famous actor, who spoke out about running his first marathon in NYC in the fall, tweeted On Monday night, he experienced a rare episode of vasculitis — an autoimmune deficiency — three years ago: “I have some impairments,” he wrote, referring to hearing problems. , vision and balance. “I have fully recovered.”

Vasculitis occurs when blood vessels thicken, causing inflammation and restricting blood flow to different parts of the body. Essentially, the immune system is attacking your own blood vessels. With reduced blood flow, organs in the body are at risk of damage. There are different types of vasculitis, which affect different parts of the body, experts say Luck. Some types of vasculitis can lead to aneurysms, or broken in a blood vessel. In some untreated cases, patients are at risk of having a stroke due to inflamed blood vessels.

Anisha Dua, associate professor of medicine in rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that because it is a rare disease, vasculitis is increasingly difficult to diagnose because it can manifest in many ways. difference.

And the causes of vasculitis are complex; Age, genetics, drug reactions, and pre-existing immune diseases may all play a role.

“I always think of it like a perfect storm,” Dua said. “You may have a slight genetic predisposition. You may have other things that cause you to develop vasculitis, [your] autoimmunity history in the family. But it’s not the same thing for everyone.”

Other environmental factors such as exposure to dust and toxins are being studied as contributing factors.

Dr Abbas Kharal, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said: “The exact cause of the initial autoimmune attack is still poorly understood, however, several host and environmental triggers are involved. Certain fields are thought to play a role in stimulating autoimmune responses. He added that many people are battling an autoimmune disease now more than two decades ago.

How do you treat vasculitis symptoms?

Complications from vasculitis include organ damage, blood clots, and decreased vision. Vision loss can be caused by giant cell arteritis (arteritis), which causes a blockage of blood flow specifically to your head and, therefore, the passageways to your eyes.

Kutcher speaking to Bear Grylls in an exclusive clip obtained by “Hollywood Access” for a special on National Geographic. “It took me like a year to rebuild it all.”

Some forms of vasculitis are milder than others; Treatment depends on severity. Symptoms include skin rash, joint pain, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and loss of appetite. More severe symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, vision loss or organ failure, Dua said. Some forms can resolve independently, but if several organs are involved, specialized treatment is required.

Many treatments, Dua says, aim to calm the immune system, manipulating it to stop attacking itself. For example, steroids can be used to help restore the immune system, as can many other medications, depending on the situation.

“Cerebral vasculitis can be very difficult to diagnose and requires a team of experts in stroke and inflammation for proper diagnosis and treatment, so it is important to seek treatment at the center. Vasculitis treatment is indicated for this problem,” says Kharal.

Dua says the disease can be isolated and publicly misunderstood, which can leave people feeling confused about what it means for their quality of life. Being more open to talking to experts is always a good first step.

“It can be really debilitating,” she says. “Having a good source of information and building some sort of support system is really important.”

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