Polyarteritis nodosa mimics many diseases. Polyarteritis nodosa may be similar to hypersensitivity angitis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, Cogan's syndrome, Kawasaki's disease and complications associated with methamphetamine addiction, hepatitis B and C infections and other liver conditions.
The symptoms can vary widely. The disease may be acute with a fever and on-going for a long time; milder but fatal within several months; or appear as a chronic, debilitating disease.
Specific symptoms vary depending on where the affected areas of the arteries are, how severe they are, how much of the blood circulation they affect and what the impact is on various organs.
The most common symptoms are:
- Blood in the urine
- High blood pressure
- High levels of protein in the urine
- Numbness, tingling or weakness of the hands and feet
- Pain in the joints, especially the large ones
- Skin rash with raised reddish-purple patches and knobs that can be felt along affected arteries
- Stomach pain sometimes with nausea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
The vessels of the kidneys, liver, heart, stomach and intestines are most often affected.
Causes and Risk Factors
Currently, it is not known what causes polyarteritis nodosa. Various factors may be involved, including the body's defense or immune systems. Other factors include reactions to drugs such as penicillin, iodide and others; vaccinations; bacteria infections; and viral infections such as hepatitis, influenza and HIV.
While the disease can affect people of any age, it usually first appears in people between the ages of 40 and 50.