Vasculitis: Lifestyle Management

Reviewed by Isabelle Amigues, MD, MS, RhMSUS
Vasculitis is a rare condition that can be difficult to diagnose, however, many people with vasculitis recover and go on to live healthy, normal lives.

Proper diagnosis and effective treatment are critical to prevent long-term or significant damage to the body and affected organs. It’s important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. Work closely with your medical team and let them know if your symptoms worsen or change significantly. Understanding your condition is important so be sure to ask plenty of questions as you receive care.

 

Coping

Often the most difficult part of coping with vasculitis is dealing with symptoms and the side effects of medication, which can be unpleasant. Having a strong support system of friends and family who understand what you are experiencing is helpful. Seeking the assistance of a specialist is also a good idea, as he or she will be more aware of what you may be experiencing. Keep track of your physical symptoms and alert your doctor if you notice any significant changes.

 

Eating

Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein like chicken, low-fat dairy and fish. Limit sugar, fat and alcohol and maintain a healthy weight. Speak with your doctor about vitamins. Corticosteroids, a medication often prescribed to treat vasculitis, can have negative side effects like thinning bones. Your doctor may recommend a calcium or vitamin D supplement to reduce these effects.

 

Exercise

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Walking, stretching and other forms of mild exercise all contribute to your well-being. Exercise has been shown to improve bone health, strength, blood flow and mood and decrease high blood pressure, stress and anxiety. If you don’t already exercise, speak with your doctor before you begin. He or she can help recommend an exercise plan that’s right for you.

 

Lifestyle Changes

Smoking can increase your risk of vasculitis and it should be avoided altogether. If you would like to quit smoking, ask your doctor about resources that may be helpful. Find healthy ways to manage stress and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Because infection increases your risk of vasculitis, maintain a habit of washing your hands thoroughly to avoid exposure to viruses and bacteria and get an annual flu vaccine. This is especially important if you are on immune-suppressing medication, which can increase your risk of infection.

 

Vasculitis Clinical Trials

You may want to consider participating in clinical trials to learn more about vasculitis and systemic vasculitis. Clinical trials help contribute to the field of medicine and may help others in the future. See the current list of clinical trials at National Jewish Health.

 

Clinical Trials

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.