What Causes Inflammation of the Temporal Artery?

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The temporal arteries run through the temples and provide blood to the jaw muscles and part of the scalp, according to Merck Medical Manual. Inflammation of these arteries is known as temporal or giant cell arteritis. This condition can become serious, leading to blindness, hearing loss and stroke.


Symptoms of temporal arteritis include severe head pain and tenderness in the temple area, double vision, tender scalp, jaw pain, weight loss and sudden loss of vision in one eye.


The actual cause is unknown, but it is believed to be related to a faulty immune system and is commonly seen in those with frequent infections, according to Medline Plus.

Risk Factors

Temporal arteritis occurs almost exclusively in people over 50 years of age. Women are at a higher risk than men, as are people of Scandinavian descent, according to the Mayo Clinic.


It can be difficult to diagnose this condition. Doctors will rule out other causes of the symptoms first. A biopsy of the temporal artery may be performed to confirm a diagnosis.


Temporal arteritis is treated with corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Although symptoms may disappear within a few days, treatment may need to continue for a year or longer, with the dose being gradually lowered.

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