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Temporal Arteritis: How to Know if It’s More Than Just a Headache

Temporal Arteritis: How to Know if It’s More Than Just a Headache

It’s quite a normal experience for people to have headaches. But if it’s something persistent and long lasting, you may want to check on other leads that may be causing it. Knowing and considering some temporal arteritis symptoms may help you better address its occurrence and persistence.

What Is Temporal Arteritis?

Temporal arteritis refers to a form of vasculitis or an inflammation of the blood vessels. The arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head (specifically near the temple area) are either swollen or have become narrow. It is otherwise known as the Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) or Horton’s arteritis.

Older adults, particularly those in their 50s, often experience some common temporal arteritis symptoms such as persistent headaches and tenderness of the scalp. When left unaddressed, temporal arteritis can affect other blood vessels like the posterior ciliary arteries. This can lead to blindness and other visual problems.

Temporal Arteritis Causes and Other Risk Factors

Because it starts out as a regular headache, the cause of this condition is hard to track down. Healthcare professionals actually classify temporal arteritis as an autoimmune disease that affects the healthy cells in one’s system. As such, genetics and other family history may also raise the risk of developing the disease.

Giant cell arteritis may develop due to the risk factors indicated below.


Commonly, temporal arteritis symptoms and signs appear when people reach their 70s.


Women are nearly two times more inclined to have inflamed blood vessels than men.

Other Risk Factors

Giant cell arteritis is often linked to another inflammatory condition known as poylmyalgia rheymatica.

Temporal Arteritis Symptoms

Signs and symptoms leading to temporal arteritis may differ depending on the affected blood vessels. Some common symptoms are:

  • Frequent and severe headaches (typically in the temporal area)
  • Scalp tenderness (thickening of blood vessels)
  • Jaw pains when chewing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or any flu-like symptoms
  • Impaired vision (may be blurred or double vision occurs)
  • Sudden loss of sight (in one or both eyes)
  • Sweats throughout the day
  • Sudden weight loss

Some temporal arteritis symptoms muscle aches, pain and stiffness in different parts of the body (neck, arms, shoulders, arms, and hips) are caused by the onset of polymyalgia rheumatica.

Temporal Arteritis Complications

If left untreated, giant cell arteritis may lead to further complications, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Permanent blindness. Decreased blood supply to your eyes might result in a sudden loss of vision.
  • Aortic aneurysm. An aneurysm refers to the formation of a bulge in a specific blood vessel. The artery walls increase in size, and this may cause it to burst, leading to life-threatening internal bleeding.
  • Stroke. A rare complication that may take place due to the interruption of blood supply.

When to See a Doctor

You should immediately seek medical help when you experience one or more of the following:

  • Consistent pounding headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Jaw pains while eating

The doctor may run several blood tests, x-rays and scans, as well as a biopsy, in order to better examine the blood vessels, specifically the temporal arteries. Specialists like a rheumatologist or neurologist may also need to take a further look at the results.

Key Takeaway

Regular headaches should not affect you like the temporal arteritis symptoms mentioned above. Pay close attention to what your body is saying to you.

Temporal arteritis is a kind of condition that may be hard to detect. If symptoms persist, you should seek your doctor’s help and advice to prevent other complications that may arise. Early detection and treatment may prevent blindness from occurring.

Learn more about Heart Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Temporal Arteritis, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/temporal-arteritis, Accessed September 20, 2021

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/giant-cell-arteritis-gca/, Accessed September 20, 2021

Giant Cell Arteritis, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/giant-cell-arteritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20372758, Accessed September 20, 2021

Temporal Arteritis, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/temporal-arteritis/, Accessed September 20, 2021

Temporal Arteritis, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15674-temporal-arteritis, Accessed September 20, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran