At first, some people think they have a migraine.
They may experience weight loss, day and night sweats, tiredness, mild fever, loss of appetite and depression, the BBC reports.
One patient described it as "a cap of pain like my brain was being squeezed." Symptoms include:
- Severe, often sudden headaches not relieved by painkillers that affect one side of the head or temples.
- Tenderness to the head and scalp -- brushing hair can be painful.
- Swollen temporal arteries visible to the naked eye.
- Jaw pain especially when talking and chewing.
- Vision problems including double vision, blurred vision and sight loss in one or both eyes.
These are signs of giant cell arteritis (GCA), which occurs when arteries in the head and neck become inflamed and giant cells accumulate in the artery walls.
And one of those arteries delivers blood to the optic nerve. Starving the nerve of blood can cause permanent blindness.
Once the symptoms appear, there's not much time to act. In some cases, the BBC reports, "sight can be lost within days or even hours. The only thing that can save it is immediate treatment with steroids."
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