Ashton Kutcher diagnosed with vasculitis, here’s what we know about the rare disease

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  • Ashton Kutcher lost his sight, ability to walk, and hearing due to a rare autoimmune disease.
  • Named vasculitis, the condition has different types that cause inflammation of blood vessels.
  • Kutcher said it took him about a year to build back his senses.

Ashton Kutcher says he's "lucky to be alive" after battling vasculitis, a serious autoimmune disease, that affected his hearing, sight and ability to walk for more than a year. 

The Hollywood actor opened up about his diagnosis for the first time while filming an upcoming episode of National Geographic's Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge.

An exclusive video clip was released to Access Hollywood.

"Like two years ago, I had this weird, super-rare form of vasculitis," Kutcher told adventurer Bear Grylls. 

"[It] knocked out my vision, knocked out my hearing, knocked out like all my equilibrium. It took me like a year to like build it all back up," he said.

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The 44-year-old actor added that one doesn't appreciate their senses until it's gone, "until you go, 'I don't know if I'm ever gonna be able to see again. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to hear again, I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk again".

What is vasculitis?

Vasculitis is caused by inflammation of the blood vessels. The inflammation can damage the lining of the vessel and sometimes reduce blood flow or completely block it, explains Harvard Health

According to the National Institutes of Health, this can potentially cause organ damage or create aneurysms (an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel). A ruptured aneurysm can lead to internal bleeding, which can be fatal.

There are different types of vasculitis - and, while the causes of it are unknown, experts believe that an autoimmune disease (when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues) may play a role. 

Some types of the condition are also thought to be related to a person's genetic makeup. Kutcher did not mention which type of vasculitis he was diagnosed with.

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Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms of the disease can vary dramatically. As per Harvard Health, it can include aching muscles and joints, fever, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, vomiting, abdominal pain, and blood in the stool. Also, ringing in the ears and, in extreme cases, blindness or aneurysms.

While treatment depends on the size and location of the affected blood vessels, there are some cases where the vasculitis disappears on its own, explains Harvard Health.

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In the event that treatment is needed, steroids and immunosuppressive drugs are usually prescribed. Other therapies include antiviral drugs, surgery and antibiotic drugs.

Commenting on Kutcher's diagnosis in the episode, Grylls said: "What do they say in survival? Storms make you stronger, and I think he is living proof of that."

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