Churg-Strauss syndrome*

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WHAT is it?
Churg-Strauss syndrome is a form of vasculitis. These diseases are distinguished by inflammation of blood vessels. This inflammation of blood vessels can restrict blood flow to very important organs and tissues, sometimes permanently damaging them.

WHO is affected?
The usual patient that is affected is a middle aged person with a history of allergies or asthma. The individual can also feature inflammation of the blood vessels that are in the lungs, nerves, skins, and abdomen. Churg-Strauss syndrome usually occurs equally in both male and female.

HOW and WHERE it affects the body?
Churg-Strauss syndrome ranges from affecting people very mildly to being a life-threatening experience.
-Allergic is usually the first stage of the syndrome. There are a number of allergic reactions that occur during this stage. Asthma may develop or even become worse with people who already have asthma before developing the disease. Hay fever may also occur, where it affects the mucous membranes of the nose and causes runny nose, sneezing, and also itching. You can also experience sinus pain and inflammation.
-The next phase is the
hypereosinophilia phase. In Churg-Strauss syndrome, abnormally high numbers of eosinophils, which are types of white blood cells that help your immune system fight infections, are found in your blood or tissues, which can cause serious damage. Your lungs and digestive tract are usually affected the most in this phase, so the signs and symptoms would be fever, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, cough, abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal bleeding. These symptoms are able to last months or years and can sometimes occur, disappear, and then reoccur.
-The third phase is systemic vasculitis which is the inflammation of blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to important organs throughout your entire body. You may feel unwell, experience weight loss, swollen lymph glands and also fatigue in this phase. Other things you may experience depending on which organs are affected are rashes, skin sores, numbness in your hands and feet, diarrhea, vomiting, chest pain, and blood in your urine.


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WHEN does the disease first present itself?

Churg-Strauss disease is usually present when an individual has at least four of the six criteria. The criteria are asthma, eosinophilia with a count higher than 10%, mononeuropathy which is damage to a nerve group, pulmonary infiltrates on chest x-rays, history of acute or chronic sinus pain and lastly extravascular eosinophils which are white cells that are present outside of your blood vessels.


Interesting facts J
*Churg-Strauss syndrome is rare and has no cure. If you have the disease, your doctor can usually help control symptoms with steroids and other powerful immunosuppressant drugs.
*Medications used to treat this disease include corticosteroids, other immunosuppressive drugs, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg).
* You can take some steps in your own lifestyle to help minimize your chances of getting this disease. These include protecting your bones by getting calcium, exercise, stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and keep regular doctor’s appointments.
*It is not known exactly how many people have Churg-Strauss syndrome, but the disease is rare. It affects somewhere between 700 and 3,000 people in the United States.


Sources and helpful links:

1. http://www.medicinenet.com/churg-strauss_syndrome/article.htm
2. http://vasculitis.med.jhu.edu/typesof/churgstrauss.html
3. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/churg-strauss-syndrome/DS00855

4. http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/churg-strauss-syndrome/DS00855.html