• Wegener’s Granulomatosis

    (WG)

    Definition

    Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG) is a rare disease that causes the walls of blood vessels to become inflamed (called vasculitis). This limits blood flow to tissues and can affect any organ. If left untreated, WG can be fatal. The outlook, though, is good with proper treatment. If you suspect you have WG, see your doctor right away.
    Damage to Kidney Due to Decreased Blood Flow
    Kidney damage
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    WG is a type of autoimmune disease. This means the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Its cause is unknown. An infection may trigger it, but none has yet been found.

    Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The risk factors for WG are not clear. Males and females are equally affected. It can occur at any age, although it more often begins in middle age. It does not appear to be passed from one generation to the next. Compared with Caucasians, however, African-Americans rarely get the disease.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms may vary from mild to severe. They may also progress at a different rate from one person to another. Often, WG first causes chronic cold, sinus, or allergy-like symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms, do not assume they are due to WG. See your doctor. They may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. Symptoms of WG may include:
      Upper respiratory tract problems
      • Recurring middle ear infections that get better very slowly and cause ear problems and hearing loss
      • Chronic sinus inflammation, causing congestion and pain
      • Runny nose and other “cold” symptoms that don’t respond well to treatment
      • Nasal crusting or ulcers, and frequent nosebleeds
      • Erosion of the septum between the nasal passages, which can cause the bridge of the nose to collapse
      Areas of Sinus Pain
      Sinus Headache: Areas of Pain
      Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    • Chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, or coughing up blood; hoarseness or voice changes
    • Muscle or joint pain or swelling
    • Red, burning, or painful eyes; double vision or decrease in vision
    • Skin problems
      • Rash; small red or purple raised areas
      • Blister-like lesions, ulcers, or nodules
      • Extreme sensitivity to cold in fingers or toes
      Other possible symptoms include:
      • Fever or night sweats
      • Fatigue or weakness
      • Weight loss or loss of appetite
      • Changes in urine color
      • Numbness, tingling, shooting pain, or weakness in arms or legs

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The doctor may do tests to rule out other conditions, determine which organs are involved, or to confirm the diagnosis. Tests may include:
    • Blood tests—taking blood to check blood counts, sedimentation rate, kidney function, and antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA)
    • Urinalysis—taking a sample of urine to check for signs that kidneys are involved
    • Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of lungs
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures, such as sinuses
    • Biopsy —removal of a sample of tissue (eg, sinus, nose, skin, lung, or kidney) to check for signs of WG

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment usually includes a combination of medication types.

    Medications

    • Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone—to reduce inflammation and pain
    • Chemotherapy —to control the overactive immune system; these may include cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, or azathioprine.
    • Reduced dosages of these drugs for at least a year, if all signs of disease go away
    • Medications to prevent infection or bone loss, which are possible side effects of treatment

    Exercise

    Although it can’t cure WG, exercise may help you manage its symptoms.

    Prevention

    Because the cause of this condition is unknown, it is not yet clear what you can do to prevent it.

    RESOURCES

    American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association http://www.aarda.org

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH) http://www3.niaid.nih.gov

    Wegener’s Granulomatosis Association http://www.wgassociation.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    BC Health Guide, British Columbia Ministry of Health http://www.bchealthguide.org

    The Arthritis Society http://www.arthritis.ca

    References

    Types of vasculitis: Wegener’s granulomatosis. The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center website. Available at: http://vasculitis.med.jhu.edu/typesof/wegeners.html . Accessed September 21, 2005.

    Wegener’s granulomatosis. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/wegeners.htm . Accessed September 21, 2005.

    What is Wegener’s granulomatosis? The Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0200/0214.asp?index=4757 . Accessed September 21, 2005.

    What is Wegener’s granulomatosis? Wegener’s Granulomatosis Association website. Available at: http://www.wgassociation.org/aboutwg/whatis%5Fwg.shtml . Accessed September 21, 2005.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.