Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects mostly the lungs, and lymph glands. Though it mostly affects the lungs and lymph glands, it can also affect the eyes, skin, heart, liver, spleen, or brain. Sarcoidosis causes abnormal masses of inflamed tissues to grow in the organs. This can alter the function of the organ that is affected.
There is no cure to Sarcoidosis, but in some cases it resolves on its own with time. It can last for years with minimal to no treatment. In severe cases though it can cause organ damage. Sarcoidosis is more common in women than men. People with a family history of Sarcoidosis are at a higher risk of developing it. The actual cause is unknown but it is likely to be caused by the body’s immune system response to infectious agents, chemicals, or dust.
Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. Symptoms can vary from person to person, vary in severity, and vary depending on what organ is affected.
Initial symptoms that usually spark concern are persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, weight loss, night sweats and fatigue.
There are a long list of other symptoms that may occur depending on what organ is affected. You could experience red bumps on skin, swollen painful joints, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged glands, hoarse voice, pain in hands or feet from cysts, kidney stone formation, enlarged liver, arrhythmias, hearing loss, meningitis, seizures, chest pain, wheezing, blurred vision, fainting, headaches, or dry itchy eyes.
Symptoms may not all be present at once. You may not experience all of these symptoms if you suffer from Sarcoidosis.
Diagnosis may differ from patient to patient because of the difference in affected organs. Your doctor may want to get some chest x-rays, or a high resolution CT scan. These films will be able to show if there are masses growing in any of your organs.
Other tests that your doctor may want to have done are pulmonary function or breathing tests to see if your lungs have become affected, or if you are having too much difficulty breathing. A bronchoscopy, ECG or EKG, or PET scan are other tests to help diagnose what organs have been affected by the Sarcoidosis growths. Blood and urine tests, and eye exams are also things that could be used to diagnose as well.
Some people require no treatment at all. The growths can sometimes resolve on their own without any treatment. There is no actual cure for Sarcoidosis. When treatment is necessary it is to help with symptoms, or to help if organ failure happens in severe cases.
Treatment may include some medications such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, or hydroxychloroquine. You may need to undergo physical therapy, pulmonary rehab or have a pacemaker put in if your heart has been put under too much strain.
If your symptoms are mild your doctor may suggest to just monitor your symptoms and track progression over time. In severe cases when your organs start to fail you may need surgery for an organ transplant.
There are some complications that can occur if your Sarcoidosis is long term. It can cause lung infection, cataracts, glaucoma, kidney failure, abnormal heart beat, facial paralysis, infertility, severe heart and lung damage, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, loss of vision, eye pain, sensitivity of light or facial numbness.
Left untreated in severe cases can cause these complications, so it is best to get checked over in case your progression needs to be checked so you don’t end up with one of these complications.
Sarcoidosis usually resolves on its own. Though there is no cure it usually isn’t a fatal disease though sometimes it can lead to some serious complications when left unchecked, or without medical intervention. The abnormal masses of inflamed tissues don’t cause cancer, but they can alter the normal function of the organs they are growing in which can cause some serious symptoms. Sarcoidosis can last long term or only for a short while before it goes away on its own.