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What is vasculitis? Ashton Kutcher’s deadly autoimmune disorder explained

The actor says that the condition affected his ability to see, hear, and, walk.

Amber Raiken
New York
Tuesday 09 August 2022 13:59 BST
Related: Ashton Kutcher Says He’s ‘Lucky to Be Alive’ After Rare Autoimmune Disorder Diagnosis

Ashton Kutcher has revealed that he had vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disorder that caused him to lose the ability to see, hear, and walk.

During a sneak peak of an upcoming episode of the National Geographic’s Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge, obtained by Access Hollywood, Kutcher detailed how the condition “knocked” him out.

“Like two years ago, I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis, that like knocked out my vision, it knocked out my hearing, it knocked out like all my equilibrium,” he said. “It took me a year to build it all back up.”

He also acknowledged that he is “lucky to be alive,” before noting how he saw this health scare as a “thing that [was] made for” him, which helped life become “more fun”.

Here’s everything you need to know about vasculitis, ranging from its starting symptoms to its different forms of treatment.

What is vasculitis?

Vasculitis is when there’s inflammation of the blood vessels, causing “the blood vessels to thicken,” as noted by Mayo Clinic. As a result, this can prevent proper blood flow and damage organs.

Most types of vasculitis are rare, and the condition can impact either one organ or multiple ones.

What are the symptoms?

The publication also shared that some symptoms of the condition include headache, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and general aches and pains to the body.

Aside from these more general signs of vasculitis, some more specific symptoms can include ringing in one ear and stomach pain after eating.

Some people with the disorder have also experienced a temporary loss of vision and a feeling of numbness or weakness to the hands or feet.

What causes vasculitis and what puts people at risk of getting it?

According to Mayo Clinic, the causes for the autoimmune disorder aren’t “fully understood”. However, it could be due to people’s genetics and their past medical history.

The condition could also be a result of people’s immune systems “attacking blood vessel cells by mistake,” which could be triggered by infections like hepatitis B and hepatitis C or blood cancers.

While any person could develop symptoms of vasculitis, things that can increase their risk of various disorders include their age, family history, and history with immune disorders, such as lupus.

Medications can also be a risk factor, as the site says that vasculitis can be triggered by “hydralazine, allopurinol, minocycline and propylthiouracil”.

What are different types of treatments?

According to Mayo Clinic, treatments are primarily centred on controlling the inflammation of blood vessels and monitoring any underlying conditions that could cause vasculitis to appears.

More specifically, one common medication used to control inflammation due to vasculitis is a corticosteroid drug called prednisone. Although other types of medications can vary, the ones that people take depends on how severe their vasculitis is.

In some cases, when vasculitis causes a “ballooning in the wall of a blood vessel,” also known as an aneurysm, people may need to get “surgery to reduce the risk of it rupturing”.

The publication also shared how it has been working on clinical trials in order to discover different types of treatments for and ways to detect the autoimmune disorder.

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