Temporal Arteritis

Damage sustained by the inflammation of temporal arteries that are responsible for supplying blood to the brain and the head is medically known as temporal arteritis. This condition is sometimes also referred to as giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis. Even though temporal arteries are usually the ones that are most affected by this condition, all large or medium arteries in the body can get affected by temporal arteritis. The chance of this condition developing in women is four times higher than in men. Young people are less likely to develop temporal arteritis than older people especially those who are less than 60 years of age.

What Is Temporal Arteritis?

Temporal arteritis is chronic condition that is characterized by persistent inflammation in the medium and large arteries located in the head, which are responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to the many parts of the brain. This inflammation can cause a decrease in the supply of nutrients and oxygen in the brain.

Considered to be an autoimmune disorder, temporal arteritis causes the immune system of the body to start attacking its own cells and tissues for no reason, resulting in inflammation. Although this condition usually targets the temporal arteries present in the temple region close to the eyes, they can affect the arteries present anywhere in the body. Since it affects the supply of blood to the brain, symptoms of temporal arteritis can affect any part of the body including the eyes, face and the head.

Although temporal arteritis is not that common, it is among the most common precursors of a disease called vasculitis which causes inflammation of the blood vessels.

Treatment for temporal arteritis is possible but if the condition is not treated at an early stage, it can cause serious problems like stroke or even blindness.

What Are the Symptoms & Complications of Temporal Arteritis?

Temporal arteritis symptoms include:

  • Vibrating pain in the back or one side of the head
  • Scalp becomes sensitive to touch

Some of the other symptoms can be similar to that of flu:

  • Sweating profusely
  • Fever
  • Not feeling well
  • Intermittent pain in the jaws when chewing food
  • Appetite loss
  • Aches in the muscles
  • Stiffness and pain in the hips, neck, shoulder and upper arms
  • Too much tiredness and weakness

Eyesight issues might also be felt as part of temporal arteritis symptoms and they might start unexpectedly:

  • Double vision
  • Blurring of vision
  • Blindness or reduction of vision in one or both eyes

Some other symptoms that might accompany this condition include:

  • Bleeding in the gums
  • Loss of hearing
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Facial pain


Temporal Arteritis can lead to complications if it is left untreated for a long period of time:

  • Damage and inflammation of the blood vessels present in other parts of the body
  • Aneurysm development, especially aortic aneurysm
  • Loss of vision
  • Weakness of the eye muscles
  • Stroke
  • Blindness

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing symptoms that are associated with temporal arteritis then it is important that you seek medical attention as quickly as possible. This condition can lead to the development of serious medical issues but all that can be avoided if you consult the opinion of your doctor immediately and start getting the adequate treatment for it.

What Are the Causes & Risk Factors of Temporal Arteritis?

There is no exact reason for the cause of this condition. However, since most of the people diagnosed with temporal arteritis are above 50 years of age, it is suggested that the natural aging process might be responsible for it.

Risk Factors

The chances of the development of temporal arteritis get increased if you have the following factors:

  • Old age
  • Having someone in the family who suffers from temporal arteritis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Female gender

However, there also is a chance that people who are at a higher risk of developing this condition do not get affected by it at all.

What Are the Treatments for Temporal Arteritis?

There is no cure available for temporal arteritis. Thus, the aim of the treatment is mainly to reduce the damage to the tissue caused by the irregular flow of blood in this condition.

Treatment for this condition must begin immediately if there is even a chance that the patient is suffering from it. This is crucial because this condition can lead to serious complications like aortic aneurysm, stroke and blindness if it is left untreated for too long.

This is why doctors tend to prescribe oral corticosteroids in cases if there is chance that a diagnosis of temporal arteritis might be reached. Aspirin is also advised for the musculoskeletal symptoms that accompany this condition.

Side Effects of Corticosteroid Treatment

The corticosteroid treatment that is provided to the patients can also cause certain complications as well. This treatment can make a person vulnerable to problems like high blood pressure, glaucoma, osteoporosis, cataracts and muscle weakness. Other side effects of corticosteroid treatment include:

  • Putting on weight
  • Rise in the blood sugar levels (which can cause diabetes)
  • Increase in bruising because of thinning of skin
  • Slowing down of the immune system

Therefore, regular check-ups with the doctor are recommended while corticosteroid therapy is being given to you as the doctor will have to ensure that your body handles the drugs properly and does not develop any complications because of the prolonged use of these drugs.

Other Treatments

The doctor might recommend the following measures to you when you are undergoing the treatment:

  • Taking vitamin D and calcium supplement
  • Stop smoking
  • Attempting weight-bearing exercise
  • Regular tests for checking your bone density

Watch the video below to have a quick view on temporal arteritis:


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