Sarcoidosis is a strange autoimmune diseases that causes tissue inflammation within the affected organs. It commonly occurs in the lungs and lymph nodes but it can develop in various other organs like heart, eyes, brain, liver, spleen and so on. This condition leads to the formation of lumps in the affected areas of your body, which can ultimately alter the shape and functionality of the respiratory, lymphatic and various other systems.
I call sarcoidosis a strange illness because it still is unclear which factors trigger its onset. It’s also not known how the lumps spread from one part of the body to another. The only sure fact is that the inflammation is caused by an uncommon immune response, which usually occurs in patients between the age of 20 and 40. Sarcoidosis is predominant in African-American women and affects up to 0,04% of the U.S. population. However, figures could be a little higher because around 60% of sufferers aren’t aware that they’re developing this disease.
Signs of this inflammatory condition are not always surfacing and this often leads to the accidental discovery of sacroidosis during chest X-ray examinations. When symptoms occur, they vary a lot depending on which organ is affected. The most frequent complaints are caused by shortness of breath, dry cough and general exhaustion. Other encountered symptoms are:
– Eyes: inflammation can disturb the iris of your eyes and cause blurry vision and eye redness.
– Skin: small lumps can develop on the skin. They are colored red and commonly appear on the patients calves.
– Joints: attacked by sarcoidosis swell and feel painful. They also become stiff and mobility is reduced.
– Lymphatic System: affected by this disease is signaled by inflamed lymph glands of the neck, groin, armpits, chest and lung area.
– Nervous System: is affected by this autoimmune disease in various ways. Starting with hearing loss, meningitis seizures and even psychiatric disorders.
– Heart: symptoms of sarcoidosis include missed or abnormal heart beats. It can lead to and inflammation of the hearts shell, causing pericarditis and even heart failure.
– Other Areas: affected by sarcoidosis are the vocal cords (hoarseness), the kidneys (stone formation) and liver (enlarging).
Depending on how symptoms manifest themselves, the disease is discovered easy or quite late. Some patients have a sudden onset of signs that fade away quite fast, while others have mild symptoms surfacing for a long period of time. Last but not least are those that don’t experience any symptoms at all. A doctor will provide a clear diagnose with the help of X-rays, blood samples or tissue samples.
Because it often happens that symptoms fade away, treatment is in theses cases not necessary. In fact, a standard treatment for this disease isn’t available. If symptoms persist or aggravate your doctor will usually prescribe corticosteroids under the form of injections, pills or eye drops. Mild symptoms can be alleviated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Your doctor will emphasize on the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle, with a properly-balanced diet and plenty hours of sleep. Smoking becomes totally prohibited, because your respiratory system doesn’t need other stress factors.