Giant cell arteritis is a disorder that causes inflammation of your arteries, usually in the scalp, neck, and arms. It narrows the arteries, which keeps blood from flowing well. Giant cell arteritis often occurs with another disorder called polymyalgia rheumatica. Both are more common in women than in men. They almost always affect people over the age of 50.
Early symptoms of giant cell arteritis resemble the flu: fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever. Other symptoms include
- Pain and tenderness over the temples
- Double vision or visual loss, dizziness
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Pain in your jaw and tongue
Your doctor will make the diagnosis based on your medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam. There is no single test to diagnose giant cell arteritis, but you may have tests that measure inflammation.
Treatment is usually with corticosteroids. Early treatment is important; otherwise there is a risk of permanent vision loss or stroke. However, when properly treated, giant cell arteritis rarely comes back.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
- Vasculitis Syndromes of the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- What Is Giant Cell Arteritis? (American Academy of Ophthalmology) Also in Spanish
- What is Vasculitis? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Giant Cell Arteritis (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- American College of Rheumatology
- Find a Rheumatologist (American College of Rheumatology)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish