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Information on Churg-Strauss Syndrome

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/14/2009

This article focuses on Churg-Strauss syndrome. It defines this condition and talks about the elements of this condition.

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    Churg-Strauss syndrome is also called allergic angiitis and allergic granulomatosis. It is a disorder in which blood vessels are inflamed. This inflammation can cause tissue and vital organ damage because of blood flow restriction. This syndrome can cause a number of things and asthma is the most common. Other things it can cause include feet and hand numbness and severe pain, hay fever, gastrointestinal bleeding and rash. The cause of this syndrome is unknown, but scientists do know that those with this syndrome have overactive immune systems.

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    Symptoms of Churg-Strauss Syndrome

    The symptoms of this syndrome are highly variable. Some patients only experience mild symptoms and some experience severe symptoms which can also be life-threatening. All three stages of this syndrome present different symptoms; however, all patients are different and some will develop each stage at different times and some patients will not develop all three phases. The first stage of this syndrome is the allergic phase and the symptoms may include asthma, sinus inflammation and pain, and hay fever. The second stage of this syndrome is hypereosinophilia and the symptoms may include fever, gastrointestinal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, cough and night sweats. The third stage of this syndrome is systemic vasculitis and the symptoms may include skin sores or rashes, blood in the urine, swollen and achy joints, irregular heartbeat, numbness, tingling and severe pain in the feet and hands, chest pain, severe abdominal pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea.

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    Diagnosing this Condition

    There are no diagnostic tests that can provide a definitive diagnosis of Churg-Strauss syndrome. As of now, doctors use a set of criteria that was established by the American College of Rheumatology to make a diagnosis. If a person meets four out of the six established criteria a doctor will most likely diagnose a person with this syndrome. The six criteria include asthma, extravascular eosinophils, eosinophilia, history of chronic or acute sinus pain, pulmonary infiltrates and mononeuropathy or polyneuropathy. Blood tests, affected tissue biopsy and imaging tests may also be ordered to rule out other conditions and to solidify a diagnosis.

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    Treating Churg-Strauss Syndrome

    Currently, no cure exists for Churg-Strauss syndrome. However, there are some medications available that may help patients achieve remission. Medications used to manage Churg-Strauss syndrome include corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin and other immunosuppressive drugs.

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    Resources

    Mayo Clinic. (2008). Churg-Strauss Syndrome. Retrieved on July 27, 2009 from Website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/churg-strauss-syndrome/DS00855