Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple organs in the body, but mostly affects the lungs and lymph nodes. Sarcoidosis can also affect the skin, eyes, joints, liver, kidney, heart and other organs.
Who’s at risk for the disease?
In the United States the disease affects African-Americans 10 to 17 times more often than Caucasians. Generally, Sarcoidosis affects people when they are between 20 and 40 years old. The disease affects both men and women, although women are more likely to have the disease.
What causes sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown.
The National Sarcoidosis Society is dedicated to providing education and services to patients, families & health care providers. We research into causes and alternative treatments.
Signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis
The most common symptoms are difficulty breathing, persistent dry cough, chest pain and fatigue. Sarcoidosis can affect every system of the body, the most common signs for the affected systems:
- Tender reddish bumps or patches on the skin
- Red and teary eyes or blurred vision
- Swollen and painful joints
- Enlarged and tender lymph glands in the neck, armpits and groin
- Enlarged lymph glands in the chest and around the lungs
- Nasal stuffiness and hoarse voice
- Pain in the hands, feet or other bony area due to the formation of cysts
- Kidney stone formation
- Enlarged liver
- Development of abnormal or missed beats (arrhythmias), inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericarditis) or heart failure
Nervous system effects, including hearing loss, meningitis, seizures or psychiatric disorders (for example, dementia, depression or psychosis)
Symptoms vary from person to person. Others may have no outward symptoms at all even though organs are affected.
How is sarcoidosis diagnosed?
- There is no one test or sign or symptom which clearly points to sarcoidosis, because nearly all of the symptoms and laboratory results in sarcoidosis also occurs in other diseases. For that reason, diagnosis requires careful consideration of many facts.
- The tools used to diagnosis sarcoidosis:
- Chest x-rays – to look for cloudiness (pulmonary infiltrates) or swollen lymph glands
- CT Scan – to provide an even more detailed look at the lungs and lymph glands than provided by chest x-rays.
- Pulmonary function (breathing test) to measure how well the lungs are working,
- Bronchoscopy – involves passing a small tube (bronchoscopes) down the trachea (windpipe) and into the bronchial tubes (airways) of the lungs.
How is the disease treated?
Treatments generally fall into two categories – maintenance of good health practices and drug treatment.
Good health practices include:
- Getting regular check-ups with your health care provider
- Eating a well balanced diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Drink 8 to 10, 8 ounce glasses of water a day
- Getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercising regularly and managing and maintaining your weight.
- Stop Smoking!!!
Drug treatments are used to relieve symptoms and reduce the inflammation of the affected tissues. The oral corticosteroid, prednisone, is the most commonly used treatment.
National Sarcoidosis Society
Glenda Fulton, Founder
National Sarcoidosis Foundation