Temporal Arteritis


Temporal Arteritis (Discharge Care) Care Guide

  • Temporal (TEM-po-ral) arteritis (ahr-ter-I-tis) is also called giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis. This is a condition where one or both of the temporal arteries are inflamed (swollen). Temporal arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and are located above and in front of the ears. With temporal arteritis, the arteries are damaged and scars may form in them. This makes the temporal arteries swollen, narrow, and tender. Over time, the swollen and narrowed temporal arteries cause decreased blood flow to the eyes, face, and brain. People who have temporal arteritis often also have polymyalgia rheumatica. Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disease which causes pain and stiffness of the muscles and joints of the body. Both diseases may occur at the same time or one after the other.

  • Severe and throbbing headache is the most common symptom of temporal arteritis. Your temporal arteries may also be enlarged or bulging. Other symptoms may include fever; jaw, tongue, muscle and joint pains; loss of appetite; or weight loss. Temporal arteritis is diagnosed by blood tests, biopsy, angiography, arterial doppler, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Treatment includes medicines, such as steroids, immunoglobulins, immunosuppressants, and aspirin. With proper treatment, you have a greater chance of having a full recovery and preventing further problems. Ask your caregiver for more information about these tests and treatments.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Do not drink alcohol: Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.

  • Exercise: Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and helps keep you healthy. Begin to exercise slowly and do more as you get stronger. Talk with your primary healthcare provider before you start an exercise program.

  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.


Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

For more information:

Having temporal arteritis may be life-changing for you and your family. Accepting that you have temporal arteritis may be hard. You and those close to you may feel sad, angry, depressed, or frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. Contact the following for more information about temporal arteritis:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address: http://www.aafp.org
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease
    Information Clearinghouse
    National Institutes of Health
    1 AMS Circle
    Bethesda , MD 20892-3675
    Phone: 1- 301 - 495-4484
    Phone: 1- 877 - 226-4267
    Web Address: http://www.niams.nih.gov


  • You have a fever.

  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.

  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.


  • You suddenly cannot see with one or both eyes.

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:

    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns

    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm

    • Trouble breathing

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:

    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face

    • Weakness in an arm or leg

    • Confusion or difficulty speaking

    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

  • Your signs and symptoms come back or get worse.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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