Overview and Facts about Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is a disease where inflammatory cells begin to grow in various spots throughout your body. These inflammatory cells are called granulomas and take the form of lumps. This most commonly occurs in the lungs and lymph nodes of the chest, but can also happen in the heart, skin, or eyes. If not treated promptly, sarcoidosis can cause permanent scarring in your organs, which is known as pulmonary fibrosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Sarcoidosis
Symptoms of sarcoidosis depend on where you’re experiencing the condition. Some symptoms gradually develop over years, while others appear suddenly and then fade just as quickly. Some of the most common symptoms of sarcoidosis include:
- Sweating at night
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling short of breath
- A rash around the ankles or shin
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Chest pain
Unfortunately, the cause of sarcoidosis is not known. However, it can sometimes be triggered by chemicals, dust, or viruses. These allergens cause your immune system to overreact, which initiates inflammation.
Doctors do know that sarcoidosis is more common in people ages 20 to 50, women, African Americans, and Northern Europeans. Additionally, if you have a family member who has this disease, you will be much more likely to develop it yourself.
Tests and Diagnosis of Sarcoidosis
Testing to see if you have sarcoidosis can be done at a pulmonology and critical care center. Some of the tests your doctor might use to see if you have sarcoidosis include:
- Chest X-rays to get a better look at your internal structures
- Lung function tests to see if your lungs are performing as they should
- A biopsy to remove tissue and see if it’s normal or not
- Blood tests to examine your hormone levels and rule out other conditions
- An eye exam to make sure your eyes haven’t been damaged
Treatment and Care for Sarcoidosis
Treatment for sarcoidosis should also be done at a pulmonology and critical care center. There, pulmonology specialists can decide which treatment will work best for you. In some cases, sarcoidosis goes away on its own, but you should never count on this.
The main treatment for sarcoidosis is prednisone, a steroid that helps reduce inflammation and ease your symptoms. Medications that lower the function of your immune system, such as methotrexate or azathioprine, can also be helpful.