Temporal Arteritis: How to Manage with 6 Natural Remedies

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Temporal Arteritis: How to Manage with 6 Natural Remedies

Dr. Josh Axe — Food is Medicine
Sep 13, 2018

Thankfully, there are natural ways you may be able to improve your overall health, manage symptoms and fight drug side effects if you have temporal arteritis.

Temporal arteritis causes pain and swelling in the arteries of the head and neck. There is no clear cause and no true cure, but fast medical treatment can help prevent serious complications.

This disease is a type of vasculitis, causing inflamed blood vessels that may make it hard for enough blood to get through. It may be an autoimmune condition. Thankfully, there are some natural ways for you to manage your temporal arteritis symptoms in addition to medication.

What Is Temporal Arteritis? 

Temporal arteritis is inflammation of the arteries in the head and neck. In most cases, the arteries that pass through the temples are affected, hence the name. The condition is also called giant cell arteritis (GCA), Horton disease and cranial arteritis. In some cases, medium and large arteries in the shoulders, arms and other parts of the body are also affected.

The condition causes swelling and damage in the blood vessels, making it hard for blood to pass through to the brain and other parts of the body. This can cause serious health problems, such as blindness and stroke.

Temporal arteritis diagnosis should not be done on your own, since it shares symptoms with many other conditions. You should see a healthcare professional if you have any symptoms of temporal arteritis.

Thankfully, certain tests can help distinguish between this disease and many problems that cause similar symptoms, such as migraines. You can expect a physical exam, blood tests, an ultrasound and a temporal artery biopsy to get a diagnosis. MRIs can also detect temporal arteritis. (1)

Temporal Arteritis Signs & Symptoms

Temporal arteritis symptoms can be different from person to person. In most cases, however, the condition causes some of the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness or pain in the scalp, temples or neck
  • Heat or swelling of the scalp, temples or neck
  • Throbbing headaches in the temples or back of the head
  • Changes in vision, such as seeing double or losing vision completely
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as loss of appetite, feeling tired or weak, and having a fever
  • Dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Pain in the jaw or tongue, especially when chewing or opening wide
  • Pain or stiffness in the shoulders, neck or hips — these may actually be polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms, which affect about half of all people with temporal arteritis

Temporal Arteritis Causes & Risk Factors

The exact cause of temporal arteritis is unknown. It is possibly linked with the body’s immune system health. In rare cases, it has been linked to having certain severe infections or taking high doses of antibiotics. (2)

Risk factors for temporal arteritis include: (34)

  • Being 50 or older
  • Being a woman
  • Having a low body mass index (BMI)
  • Starting menopause before age 43
  • Having polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Being of northern European or Scandinavian descent
  • Having a family history of the condition
  • Smoking or being an ex-smoker

Conventional Treatment of Temporal Arteritis

As soon as a doctor suspects you have temporal arteritis, you will likely be given a high dose of steroids. Afterwards, you will be prescribed a lower dose of steroids that you may take for several months to a year or more, until your symptoms go away. This helps fight the inflammation and may prevent further damage to your blood vessels.

You must continue taking steroids for as long as your healthcare provider says, since the medicine helps prevent serious complications including vision loss, stroke and death. Once your symptoms are gone, your dose may be gradually lowered. In some people, the condition does not return. Others experience symptoms when they stop the medication and must begin treatment again.

Depending on your overall health or the particular type of steroid you take, you may also be prescribed:

  • Drugs… to suppress your immune system
  • Aspirin… to thin your blood and allow it to pass more easily through your narrowed arteries
  • Anti-osteoporosis treatments… to fight the side effects of some temporal arteritis medications
  • A proton-pump inhibitor… to fight gastrointestinal side effects of aspirin or similar drugs

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