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Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP) by Jessica Brown

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HSP (Henoch-Schonlein Purpura) is a disease that affects the small blood vessels. People who have HSP will most likely experience inflammation of the small blood vessels that eventually start to leak. The organs that are affected are the kidneys, intestines, joints and skin. Most commonly affected are children ages two to eleven and the most documented cases were in children from four to six. Adults are susceptible as well. In adults the disease will be more severe than in children. The disease is more common in boys than girls but not significantly. Children of Asian and White ethnicity are more commonly affected than are African American children. Scientist still do not have much information on where HSP comes from or how it is acquired.

Professionals believe that HSP is a disease where the immune system attacks the blood cells. Many cases of HSP appear after an upper respiratory disease. Vaccinations, cool weather, food, drugs (such as antibiotics and antihistamines), and chemicals are just a few other ideas that doctors have as to where the disease comes from. The disease does not normally occur in the summer months. Another idea as to how this disease is triggered is insect bites. In rare cases the pancreas will become inflamed. Medical is not needed in most cases but if kidneys are affected infected may need to be monitored to watch for the condition to worsen. Doctors can tell by urine tests within three to six months after the symptoms start if someone will have permanent kidney damage. Doctors also believe that the immune system has to be triggered to cause an unusual immune response. Women who had HSP while they were children or young adults are more prone to high blood pressure when they become pregnant.

The symptoms of HSP include rashes, abdominal pain, raised bruises, and arthritis. In the most severe cases the infected will experience long term damage such as kidney disease, kidney failure, bowel folding, as well as the brain lungs and heart being affected. The lower extremities and buttocks are most commonly affected by the rash. Often there will be painful swelling in the joints. When people experience abdominal pain they may also experience bloody stools, diarrhea, and vomiting. The duration of the symptoms and the disease is usually four to six weeks. Before the onset of the disease the infected may experience a fever or headache. Symptoms usually do not occur the whole six weeks but may show up from time to time.

As of now there is no specific treatment for HSP, most cases call for over the counter medications like Tylenol to treat the pain from inflammation. Prednisone is used for internal bleeding associated with HSP. When kidneys are affected doctors may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs to help prevent permanent kidney damage. If the disease reoccurs it usually comes within two to three months after the first episode and is said to be less severe. Only one percent of cases result in complete kidney failure and it takes up to ten years to progress to failure. The National Institute of Diabetes and Diseases and Kidney Diseases is currently researching to discover more about HSP and to treat the severe cases where kidney disease results.


“Henoch-Schönlein purpura .” National Institue of Health. Ed. Joseph Flynn, NIDDK scientists outside experts, and ASPN Clinical Affairs. NKUDIC, Sept. 2006. Web. 5 Apr. 2012..

“Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP).” WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012..

“Henoch-Schonlein purpura .” Ed. McCarthy HJ. N.p., 4 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 Apr. 2012.


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