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Lots of people suffer severe migraine headaches, but sometimes the headache that is diagnosed as migraine is really temporal arteritis and the patient must be put on prednisone immediately to prevent sudden blindness. If you develop severe headaches, check with you doctor who will feel in your temples for thick beating arteries. If you have them, you may suffer from a serious condition called temporal arteritis. Your doctor then will order a blood test called sed rate. If it is high, you may have this condition.

The only way to prove that you have temporal arteritis is to cut out a piece of your artery and see the irritation in the inner lining of the blood vessels called arteritis. To prevent sudden blindness, your doctor prescribes prednisone, a cortisone-type drug that reduces swelling. Several recent papers show that damage to the inner linings of arteries in your temples and brain can be caused by infection ( 3,4) with chlamydia, the same bacteria that causes heart attacks (1), parvovirus B19 (2) and parainfluenza type 1 (5). At this time, it may be good medicine for your doctor to prescribe antibiotics such as Zithromax (250 mg a day) or Biaxin (500 mg twice day) for a week along with the usually prednisone.

1) AD Wagner, HC Gerard, T Fresemann, WA Schmidt, E GromnicaIhle, AP Hudson, H Zeidler. Detection of Chlamydia pneumoniae in giant cell vasculitis and correlation with the topographic arrangement of tissue-infiltrating dendritic cells. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 2000, Vol 43, Iss 7, pp 1543-1551.

2) H Elling, AT Olsson, P Elling. Human Parvovirus and giant cell arteritis: A selective arteritic impact? Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, 2000,Vol 18, Iss 4, Suppl. 20, pp S12-S14.

3) E Nordborg. Epidemiology of biopsy-positive giant cell arteritis: An overview. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, 2000, Vol 18, Iss 4, Suppl. 20, pp S15-S17.

4) C Nordborg, E Nordborg, V Petursdottir. The pathogenesis of giant cell arteritis: Morphological aspects. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, 2000, Vol 18, Iss 4, Suppl. 20, pp S18-S21.

5) P Duhaut, S Bosshard, C Dumontet. Giant cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica: Role of viral infections. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, 2000, Vol 18, Iss 4, Suppl. 20, pp S22-S23. Human parainfluenza type 1 virus.

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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