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Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is a disorder that causes inflammation of arteries of the scalp, neck, and arms. The inflammation narrows the arteries, which keeps blood from flowing well. Giant cell arteritis often occurs with another disorder called polymyalgia rheumatica. Both disorders are more common in women than in men. They almost always affect people over the age of 50.

Early symptoms of giant cell arteritis resemble the flu: fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever. Other symptoms include headaches, pain and tenderness over the temples, double vision or visual loss, dizziness, and problems with coordination and balance. You may also have pain in your jaw and tongue.

Your doctor will make the diagnosis based on your medical history, symptoms, and physical examination. There is no single test to diagnose giant cell arteritis, but you may have tests that measure inflammation.

Treatment is usually with corticosteroids. Early treatment is important; otherwise there is a risk of permanent vision loss or stroke. However, when properly treated, giant cell arteritis rarely comes back.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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