What is Wegener's granulomatosis?
Wegener's granulomatosis is a rare disease of uncertain cause. It is characterized by inflammation in a variety of tissues, including blood vessels (vasculitis). Inflammation damages vital organs of the body. Wegener's granulomatosis primarily affects the upper respiratory tract [sinuses, nose, trachea (upper air tube)], lungs and kidneys. Other organ systems that can
be affected by the disease include the nervous system, ears, eyes, heart and skin.
Wegener's granulomatosis is an uncommon disorder characterized by inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) that results in damage to various organ systems of the body, most often the respiratory tract and kidneys. Symptoms may include ulcerations of the mucous membranes in the nose with secondary bacterial infection, a persistent runny nose, sinus pain, and chronic middle ear infection (otitis media) potentially resulting in hearing loss. In some cases, kidney abnormalities may progress to kidney failure, a serious complication. If the lungs are affected, a cough, expectoration of blood (hemoptysis), and inflammation of the thin membrane lining the outside of the lungs and the inside of the lung may be present. The exact cause of Wegener’s granulomatosis is not known.
Wegener's granulomatosis is a rare form of vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels, that begins in the respiratory system. As this autoimmune disease progresses, it can cause complete kidney failure. The disease is twice as likely to occur in men than women, with most patients being Caucasian; however, only about 500 new cases are diagnosed each year. Wegener's granulomatosis may occur at any age, but is more likely to affect adults in their 30s and 40s.