Diseases > Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (EGPA) > What is it going to do to me?
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What are the Signs and Symptoms of EGPA?
Most people have asthma for many years before they get EGPA. Prior to the onset of EGPA, their asthma usually gets worse. Frequent sinus infections are also common in this early stage. As the disease progresses, the number of eosinophils in the blood starts to rise. These cells accumulate in the tissues and cause inflammation. People may start feeling unwell and notice fatigue, achiness, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, skin rashes or nodules, diarrhea or swollen lymph nodes.
Other symptoms of EGPA vary depending on which organs are affected. Shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain are common when the lungs are involved. In some cases, lung involvement can be very dramatic and life threatening. If lung disease is very severe there can be bleeding into the lung. If this happens, a person might cough up blood.
EGPA often affects the nerves in the lower part of the body. While this does not usually cause pain, it can cause a sudden loss of strength (e.g., foot drop).
Signs of EGPA can appear on the skin. Little red dots called purpura can appear on the skin. This can look like little bruises. EGPA can also affect the joints. Oftentimes people have joint aches but they can also have swelling of the joints.
Inflammation of the stomach or gastrointestinal tract can happen but this is rare. This can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. The kidneys can also be involved.
Inflammation of the tissue around the heart (called “pericarditis”) may also occur, but this is very rare. People with EGPA are at higher risk for blood clots.
Work and EGPA
Your ability to work will depend on the severity of your symptoms. In many cases, EGPA can be quite debilitating at first and it may significantly interfere with your work. In some people, the disease can be permanently disabling. The good news is that once your symptoms are under control, there is hope that you can resume your work. Remember to balance your activities with the need to rest and conserve energy. Try to keep your stress levels low.
Travel and EGPA
Although traveling is still possible when you have EGPA, it will depend on the stage of your disease. Don’t forget that EGPA is a serious illness. It can flare up at any time. Before going on a trip, check with your doctor and pack extra medication if required. See our travel checklist for extra tips.
Sex and EGPA
EGPA often causes significant fatigue, feeling generally unwell, fevers, and weight loss. With this can come a loss of sex drive and emotional hardships. This can create barriers to sexual needs, ability and satisfaction. Take comfort knowing that, with good treatment, sex and intimacy can be restored and maintained in people with EGPA … it can even draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication.
For more information on intimacy, a great book is Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win by Sheryl Koehn, Taysha Palmer and John Esdaile. Many of the tips in this book can also be applied to people with EGPA.
Pregnancy and EGPA
EGPA does not affect your ability to become pregnant. However, some medications used to treat EGPA should not be taken when trying to get pregnant or while breastfeeding. If you have EGPA and want to get pregnant, it is very important to discuss this first with your doctor.
Read more – What can I do about it?