Polyarteritis Nodosa

(PAN; Periarteritis Nodosa)

Definition

Polyarteritis nodosa is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system is your body’s defense system. It fights diseases and infections. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. With polyarteritis nodosa, medium-sized arteries and, less commonly, small arteries become inflamed and damaged. The inflammation of the arteries affects many different organs.

Causes

The cause of polyarteritis nodosa is unknown. In rare cases, however, it occurs with hepatitis B virus infection or hairy cell leukemia.

Risk Factors

Polyarteritis nodosa is more common in people 40 to 60 years of age, although it can occur at any age. It is also more common in men. Factors that may increase your chance of developing polyarteritis nodosa include:

Symptoms

Polyarteritis nodosa is a multisystem disease. This means that it affects many parts of your body at the same time. It can affect organs such as the skin, kidney, nerves, and gastrointestinal tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.Often, you will experience headache, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, and fever. Other symptoms include:
  • Skin:
    • Rashes
    • Open sores on the skin
    • Small bumps under the skin
    • Bruises
    • Death of skin tissues
    Cut-Away View of Skin with Bruise
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    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Nervous system:
    • Tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in your feet, hands, legs, arms, and face
    • Decreased alertness
    • Inability to think clearly
  • Gastrointestinal:
    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bloody and non-bloody diarrhea
  • Vision problems
    Detachment of Retina
    Retinal tear
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Genital sores

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