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What Is Churg-Strauss Syndrome?

Churg-Strauss syndrome is an extremely rare disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels.

This condition can damage small and medium-sized blood vessels. Doctors also call it Churg-Strauss vasculitis, eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), and allergic angiitis.

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The condition most often affects the nose, sinuses, lungs, heart, intestines, and nerves. In about one-half to two-thirds of people with the disease, inflammation also may affect the kidneys, muscles, or joints.

What Are the Symptoms?

Unlike other types of vasculitis, many people with this condition have asthma or a higher-than-normal number of a type of blood cell called "eosinophils."

Because many different organs may be involved, many different symptoms are possible. People who have the disease may feel ill or also have:

If it affects the nerves, you may feel a burning or prickling sensation in the limbs and other parts of the body, followed by loss of sensation or loss of strength. Doctors call this “paresthesia.”

Who Gets Churg-Strauss Syndrome?

Anyone can get it. On average, people are in their 40s when they get diagnosed.

What Causes It?

Doctors don’t know. Some experts think that allergies play a role in why some people get this disease. But many people with allergies never get it.

How Do Doctors Diagnose It?

There is no single test for it. Your doctor will look at your medical history and give you a physical exam. She will ask you about your symptoms, especially asthma.

You may also get:

If your doctor thinks you have this condition, she may take a biopsy (a small tissue sample) of an affected area to see if the blood vessels in the area are inflamed. For instance, your biopsy might come from an area of your skin that has a suspicious rash.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend doing a kidney or lung biopsy.

Treatment

If you have this disease, you will need to take drugs that target your immune system. The goal is to limit or prevent damage to healthy tissues.

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