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Diseases > Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) > What is it going to do to me?

What is Giant Cell Arteritis going to do to me?

What are the signs and symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis?

The first signs and symptoms of giant cell arteritis are often hard to pinpoint. People with the condition usually start feeling fatigued and generally feel unwell. Oftentimes it feels like having the flu: fever, headache, and muscles may feel sore and achy. Unintended weight loss can also occur.

Once the condition sets in, most people start to feel persistent pain around one or both temples. Usually if both sides are affected then one side is more obvious than the other. The temple area can become very sensitive, especially right over the temporal artery. People with giant cell arteritis often find it hurts to comb their hair or to lie on a pillow on the side that’s affected. Sometimes the temporal artery can become quite visible or prominent, but this is rare.

When the condition becomes severe, blood flow to areas supplied by the arteries can be cut off. This can lead to symptoms such as vision loss, double vision, and eventually blindness. Other symptoms to watch out for include pain around other areas of the head such as the forehead, scalp, in the jaw when chewing and pain in the tongue or teeth.

People who have PMR and giant cell arteritis may also feel pain and stiffness in the neck, arms or hips. This is usually accompanied by a great deal of morning stiffness.

Work and Giant Cell Arteritis

Since most people who develop giant cell arteritis are in their 70s or older, the condition doesn’t usually have a big impact on employment. However, it can interfere with retirement activities! The fatigue, fever, headaches and general feeling of being unwell can interfere with working and/or your daily routine.

Travel and Giant Cell Arteritis

Although traveling is still possible when you have giant cell arteritis, don’t forget that it’s a very serious illness. Before leaving, make sure you have proper medical insurance. It is best to be organized prior to your trip to ensure a smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable time. It may be a good idea to discuss taking some extra prednisone on vacation with you.

Sex and Giant Cell Arteritis

Although giant cell arteritis does not particularly cause a loss of sex drive, it can cause pain, fatigue and emotional hardships. These hardships can create barriers to sexual needs, ability and satisfaction. Take comfort knowing that sex and intimacy can be maintained in people with giant cell arteritis … it can even draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication between mates.

Pregnancy and Giant Cell Arteritis

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are not typically an issue in women with giant cell arteritis since it is almost always a disease that affects older people.

Read more – What can I do about it?