Temporal Arteritis

Temporal arteritis

Your Care Instructions

Temporal arteritis is an inflammation of blood vessels leading to your head and eyes. It usually affects people older than 50. It is more common in women. This condition is also called giant cell arteritis.

Temporal arteritis causes a dull, throbbing headache on one side of the head around the eye or near the temple. Sometimes the pain feels like stabbing or burning. It may also cause jaw pain and vision loss.

Temporal arteritis is treated right away to prevent blindness or stroke. Your doctor will prescribe steroids that you take as pills. The steroids can also be given to you through a needle in your vein. Most symptoms should get better quickly, usually in 1 to 3 days. But if you have vision loss, it isn’t likely to improve with treatment. You may need to take medicine for more than 2 years to prevent problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • Take your steroid in the morning with food unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • If you are on long-term steroids, take a daily vitamin containing calcium and vitamin D. This can prevent bone thinning caused by the steroids.
  • Get regular, gentle exercise to keep your bones strong and prevent bone loss. Walking is a good choice. Exercise can also help you cope with the illness.
  • Tell any health professional that cares for you that you are taking steroids. You may want to wear medical alert jewellery that lists this medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have twitching, jerking, or a seizure.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your symptoms start to return.
  • You get new headaches.
  • You have nausea or heartburn.
  • You have side effects of your steroid medicine, such as:
    • Weight gain.
    • Mood changes.
    • Trouble sleeping.
    • Bruising easily.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.