Arteritis is a condition that involves inflammation in the walls of your arteries. Your arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. This usually results from an auto-immune system response or an infection.
Cranial arteritis is a serious disease that is evidenced by an inflammation of the lining of the arteries in your head, specifically those arteries in your temples. These are the medium-sized arteries that supply your optic nerves, eyes and head.
Cranial arteritis may also be marked by jaw pain, headaches and blurred or double vision. Blindness and stroke may also result from cranial arteritis.
Cranial arteritis develops most often in people who are over the age of 50. This disease becomes more and more common as people age. In fact, about 20 out of every 100,000 people over the age of 50 are afflicted with cranial arteritis.
Women are twice as likely to be affected by cranial arteritis as men. Caucasians, especially those who are Scandinavians, are also affected by this disease more than people in other races.
Cranial arteritis develops when your arteries become inflamed. However, no one knows what causes this to happen. It is thought that this may be due in part to an incorrect response by your immune system. Cranial arteritis has also been associated with the use of high doses of antibiotics and severe infections.
The hallmark signs and symptoms of cranial arteritis are head tenderness and pain that are usually severe. This usually occurs in both of your temples. However, you may experience the pain in the front of your head or in one of your temples.
Other signs and symptoms of cranial arteritis may vary from person to person. Some of the possible signs and symptoms include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Pain in your jaw (jaw claudication) when you chew
- Unintended weight loss
- Pain in your tongue (tongue claudication) when chewing
- Acute tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- Stiffness and pain in your arms, hips or neck that is usually more severe in the morning before you get out of bed
- Sudden, permanent loss of vision in one eye
- Tenderness of your scalp so that it hurts to lay your head on a pillow or comb your hair