May 2024: Celebrating Vasculitis Awareness Month!

May is Vasculitis Awareness Month. Vasculitis refers to a group of rare and often challenging diseases characterized by blood vessel inflammation. These conditions can affect anyone, at any age, and can impact multiple organ systems throughout the body. Although vasculitis can have significant health consequences, the condition remains relatively unknown to the general public and even to some healthcare providers. This awareness month allows for a light to be shined on vasculitis, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis, proper treatment, community outreach and support, and ongoing research. Join us as we discuss ways to get involved in raising awareness and fostering hope, with key insights from the Vasculitis Foundation.

What is Vasculitis?

As described above, vasculitis refers to inflammation of the blood vessels, which can cause a multitude of damage and negative side effects such as narrowed vessels, aneurysms, or blockages. This inflammation can affect veins and arteries of any size, one or multiple organs at once, or be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). There are multiple subtypes of vasculitis, including (but not limited to):

  • Takayasu’s Arteritis. This rare subtype causes aortic inflammation, leading to symptoms such as diminished or absent pulses, chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain or weakness in the limbs. Doctors believe it could be triggered by an illness or virus.
  • Giant Cell Arteritis. In this form, which predominantly affects women over 50 years old, the inflammation affects large and medium arteries in the head, especially around the temples. Those affected may experience scalp tenderness, severe headaches, pain in the jaw while chewing, and vision problems.
  • Microscopic Polyangiitis. Affecting small blood vessels in the kidneys, lungs, skin, joints, and nervous system, MPA can lead to a loss of kidney function, lung disease, skin rashes, decreased mobility, and nerve damage.

Other symptoms may include fever, general malaise, appetite loss, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, blood clots, mouth ulcers, ear infections, sinus inflammation, and more depending on the subtype, affected organs, and severity.

How You Can Increase Awareness

Here are some concrete ways that you can affect change locally, nationally, and even globally!

  • Share on social media. Use hashtags like #VAM2024, #Vasculitis, and #VasculitisAwarenessMonth to spread stories and education online. Share your own experiences living with vasculitis or amplify the stories of Community Heroes. This helps combat feelings of isolation while also increasing knowledge. The Vasculitis Foundation offers some fantastic tools and artwork you can also share.
  • Make a donation. Organizations like the Vasculitis Foundation rely on donations to support families and advance medical research. Whether you’re running a Facebook fundraiser or providing a one-time donation, your funds count.
  • Call the news (or your doctors and schools!). Ask if your local news platforms will run a story on vasculitis or its symptoms. You can also encourage schools or physician offices to run awareness campaigns and educate those young and old about vasculitis.
  • Hold an awareness walk. Encourage attendees to wear themed items and post on social media.

Have any other ideas on raising awareness? Let us know!

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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