Speaking out about rare killer disease (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

by Symptom Advice on May 12, 2012

Hospital worker with dangerous condition helps to raise awareness

11:00am Thursday 10th May 2012 in Bradford by Claire Lomax

Cath Seal in her mobility scooter, which she bought after being diagnosed with vasculitis

ing a national drive during May to raise awareness of vasculitis – a rare disease which can kill.

The awareness month is being led by Vasculitis UK, which supports sufferers.

Cath Seal, 47, who works at Airedale Hospital near Steeton, has spoken about her diagnosis of Churg-Strauss syndrome – a form of vasculitis, as part of the campaign.

Vasculitis is the overall name for a group of potentially life-threatening diseases. it involves an overactive immune system and inflammation of the blood vessels, which can cause blockages and death of tissue.

different types of vasculitis can cause loss of sight, deafness, kidney failure, skin scarring and damage to lungs, the brain, nervous system and the heart and ultimately loss of body parts. The cause is not known and there is no cure, but it can usually be controlled by drugs such as steroids and immune suppressants.

some of the common symptoms include: flu-like with muscle and joint pains; fever; unexplained weight loss, ulcers that do not go away; immense fatigue; palpitations; weakness in limbs; sinus problems; persistent cough and shortness of breath.

John Mills, chairman of Vasculitis UK, said: “Vasculitis affects people of all ages and both sexes. it can cause serious illness, even death, if not dealt with promptly. The problem is the symptoms are easily confused with other illness and so the disease can go unrecognised for a long time.”

The charity will be launching a ‘route map’ for the disease at its annual meeting on Thursday, May 17 which has been commissioned and funded by the Department of Health as part of an encyclopaedia of rare diseases useful for health professionals and patients.

Vasculitis UK is revamping its website this month – vasculitis.org.uk – and has recently set up an online discussion group for members at vasculitis-uk.healthunlocked.com.

it also runs a Facebook page, email and telephone helpline for vasculitis patients every week. Contact pat.fearnside@btinternet.com for more information.

Cath Seal is slowly returning to work eight months after being diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome – a form of vasculitis.

She has had to buy an automatic car and have it adapted as she has completely lost the sensation in her right foot due to the disease. Her job requires her to get around the large site of Airedale Hospital and so she has bought a scooter to make sure she is mobile. She still takes high doses of drugs to keep the disease under control and is under the care of Airedale Hospital’s rheumatology team.

The 47-year-old had suffered from allergies including rhinitis for a long time and they had recently got much worse causing her to have regular sneezing fits. then she suddenly developed asthma in February and had a flu virus which lasted for a couple of months leaving her totally wiped out. She developed sciatic pain after going on holiday to Turkey last September which grew worse.

She said: “I was lucky as they caught my disease early. it came to light in a blood test which showed that my cells, which were supposed to be attacking foreign bodies as part of my natural immune system, were actually attacking healthy cells.

“The problem with vasculitis is that it is incredibly difficult to diagnose as it can affect many parts of your body.

“Because it is such a rare disease most health professionals have never even heard of it. this does make it very scary and difficult to get accurate information about the disease. I recently went along to the Yorkshire support groups held in Doncaster – and was impressed by what a wonderful job is being done by a few dedicated volunteers who run Vasculitis UK.”

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