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Here are the Signs of the Autoimmune Disease Ashton Kutcher Felt

Ashton says he’s “lucky to be alive.”

Ashton Kutcher is opening up about his recent battle with a rare form of autoimmune disease that left him bedridden. "I had this weird, super rare form of vasculitis that knocked out my vision, it knocked out my hearing, it knocked out like all my equilibrium," Kutcher, 44, says. "It took me about a year to build it all back up. You don't really appreciate it until it's gone. Until you go, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to see again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to hear again, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to walk again.' I'm lucky to be alive." What is vasculitis and can it affect you? Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What Is Vasculitis?


Vasculitis is an autoimmune disorder where inflammation of the blood vessels causes them to narrow and restrict oxygenated blood supply, resulting in pain and tissue damage, and possible organ malfunction. "[People with vasculitis] often have fevers, weight loss, fatigue, a rapid pulse, and diffuse aches and pains that are difficult to pinpoint," according to Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. "It has been said that vasculitis is a 'hurting disease', because it is so commonly associated with pain of one type or another: pain from a nerve infarction, pain from insufficient blood to the gastrointestinal tract, pain from skin ulcers. In some cases, however, identifying the source and underlying cause of the pain is extremely challenging.  In addition to these diffuse, poorly–localized 'constitutional symptoms', vasculitis may involve virtually every organ system in the body."


What Causes Vasculitis?

Mature woman with her doctor in ambulance talking about healthcare

According to the Mayo Clinic, possible triggers for vasculitis might be:

  • Infections, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • Blood cancers
  • Immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma
  • Reactions to certain drugs


Who Is Most At Risk For Vasculitis?


According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the main risk factors for vasculitis are age, family history, lifestyle habits, medicines, medical conditions, race or ethnicity, and sex. "Researchers continue to investigate what causes most forms of vasculitis," says University of Michigan Health. "It is classified as an autoimmune disease, because the body's immune system attacks blood vessels. While genetics seem to play a role in vasculitis, in most cases scientists have yet to isolate the specific gene or genes that drive the development of the disease. Some risk factors have been identified for a few types of vasculitis. Reactions to some medications, past infections with certain bacteria or viruses (hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus), exposure to environmental  factors and smoking have all been linked to one or more types of vasculitis."


Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Vasculitis

salmon fillets with pepper, salt, dill, and lemon

People with vasculitis might benefit from following an anti-inflammatory diet. "If you do not need a special diet, you should aim to cut down on starchy foods – bread, potatoes, rice and pasta, replacing these with fresh fruit and vegetables," says Vasculitis UK. "You should also avoid processed food and grain-fed meat. The omega 3 fats in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines are beneficial in autoimmune disease. Also omega 3 can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and green leafy vegetables. Omega 3 fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA can be helpful. However, it should be noted that these do react with some medication. These, and other supplements, should not be taken without discussion with your doctor or nutritionist."


Is There a Cure For Vasculitis?

medical or scientific researcher or doctor using looking at a clear solution in a laboratory

"Most forms of vasculitis are treatable if detected early enough, before substantial organ damage has occurred," says Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. "While often effective, however, the treatments remain imperfect and require improvement. Further research is needed in all forms of vasculitis. Greater knowledge of these diseases will lead to better treatments and, some day, to cures."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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