Are you familiar with sarcoidosis? It's something that many people aren't aware of, yet it affects thousands of individuals throughout the world.
Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune related disease that leads to inflammation, usually in your lungs, skin, or lymph nodes and can affect any organ in your body.
In this blog post, we will cover what sarcoidosis is, the symptoms associated with it, treatments available, as well as general healthcare knowledge regarding living with this condition.
What is Sarcoidosis Disease?
Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease that can occur anywhere in the body, from your lungs and lymph nodes to more unexpected places like eyes and heart. Granulomas form on affected organs as a result of this condition, leading to sometimes serious complications if left untreated.
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. Experts suspect that any combination of infectious agents, chemicals, dust and a potential abnormal reaction to the body's own proteins could be responsible for this disease in certain people who have an innate predisposition.
Symptoms of Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis can cause a variety of effects depending on which organs it targets. For some, sarcoidosis disease will gradually develop and see symptoms for many years, while others experience sudden symptoms and disappear just as quickly.
Many people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms, so the disease may be discovered only when a chest X-ray is done for another reason.
||Persistent dry cough
||A rash of red or reddish-purple bumps, usually located on the shins or ankles, which may be warm and tender to the touch
|Swollen lymph nodes
||Shortness of breath
||Shortness of breath
||Disfiguring sores (lesions) on the nose, cheeks and ears
||Burning, itching or dry eyes
||Areas of skin that are darker or lighter in color
|Pain and swelling in joints, such as the ankles
Sensitivity to light
||Growths under the skin (nodules), particularly around scars or tattoos
||Rapid or fluttering heart beat
||Swelling caused by excess fluid
Types of Sarcoidosis
Symptoms for sarcoidosis vary, depending on the part of the body that is involved.
Pulmonary sarcoidosis is the most common form of this condition, and it can have some uncomfortable symptoms. Granulomas in the lungs often result in shortness of breath, a cough, chest pain and fever.
Cardiac Sarcoidosis is a rare condition with potentially life-threatening consequences. Symptoms include fatigue, coughing, breathlessness and even dizziness in some cases, leading to heart failure or loss of consciousness if left untreated.
Skin sarcoidosis, also known as cutaneous sarcoidosis, occurs in nearly 25 to 30 percent of people and is more common among Black people. Symptoms can range from mild, with granulomas or lesions on the skin, to more severe, affecting a person’s quality of life and day-to-day activities.
Ocular sarcoidosis affects the eyes, and symptoms depend on which part of the eye is affected. The most common part of the eye that's affected is the uveitis. Those symptoms include redness, inflammation, and pain in the eyes and nearby tissues.
Sarcoidosis affects the nervous system in approximately 10 percent of people with sarcoidosis. Almost any part of the nervous system can be involved, including the brain and meninges, the spinal cord, facial and optic nerves, hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, peripheral nerves, and muscles.
Most people with hepatic sarcoidosis do not experience symptoms or require treatment because it does not usually affect the organ’s function.
Renal sarcoidosis affects the kidneys, and in some cases can result in kidney failure.
Sarcoidosis Affecting Other Organs
In rare cases, sarcoidosis can also affect the bones, stomach, and the reproductive organs.
Treatments for Sarcoidosis Disease
Although there is no cure for sarcoidosis, in many cases, it will go away on its own and may not require treatment. The severity and extent of your condition will determine if you need treatment and what type is needed.
Organ transplant may be considered if sarcoidosis has severely damaged your lungs, heart or liver.
Some medications include:
- Corticosteroids may be administered topically as creams for skin lesions or drops in the eyes.
- Medications that suppress the immune system, such as methotrexate (Trexall) and azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) reduce inflammation.
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) may be helpful for skin lesions and elevated blood-calcium levels.
- Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors are commonly used to treat the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be helpful in treating sarcoidosis that hasn't responded to other treatments.
In cases of immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages its own tissues (autoimmune diseases). Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body's ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections.
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