Temporal arteritis: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling
  • Jaw pain, intermittent or when chewing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Throbbing headache on one side of the head or the back of the head
  • Scalp sensitivity, tenderness when touching the scalp
  • Vision difficulties
    • Blurred vision
    • Double vision
    • Reduced vision (blindness in one or both eyes)
  • Weakness, excessive tiredness
  • Weight loss (more than 5% of total body weight)

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Face pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Mouth sores

About 40% of people will have other nonspecific symptoms such as respiratory complaints (most frequently dry cough) or weakness or pain along many nerve areas. Rarely, paralysis of eye muscles may occur. A persistent fever may be the only symptom.

Diagnosis & Tests

The doctor will examine your head. Touching the head may show that the scalp is sensitive and has a tender, thick artery on one side. The affected artery may have a weak pulse or no pulse.

Blood tests may include:

  • Hemoglobin or hematocrit — may be normal or low
  • Liver function tests — may be abnormal with high levels of alkaline phosphatase
  • Sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein — almost always very high

Blood tests cannot specifically diagnose this condition. A biopsy and examination of tissue from the affected artery confirm the diagnosis in most cases.

Pictures & Images

Carotid artery anatomy


Review Date : 1/16/2009
Reviewed By : Joseph P. Hart, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery, Medical University of Southern Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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