What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a type of inflammation that occurs in various locations of the body for no known reason. Normally, when foreign substances or germs enter your body, your immune system will fight back by activating an immune response. Inflammation is a normal part of this immune response, but it should subside once the foreign substance or germs are gone. If you have sarcoidosis, the inflammation persists, and some of the immune cells form abnormal clumps of tissue called granulomas.

The disease can affect any organ in the body, but it is most likely to occur in the lungs. It can also affect the skin, eyes, liver, or lymph nodes. Although the cause of sarcoidosis is not known, research suggests that it may be due to an extreme immune response or extreme sensitivity to certain substances. It also seems to have a genetic component, meaning that it tends to run in families. Sarcoidosis most commonly develops in people who are between 20 and 50 years of age. African Americans are somewhat more likely to develop sarcoidosis than Caucasians, and females are somewhat more likely to develop sarcoidosis than males (Source: NHLBI).

The symptoms of sarcoidosis depend on the organ affected. When sarcoidosis occurs in the lungs, it can lead to wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Other possible symptoms that affect other body systems include night sweats, fever, weight loss, and seizures. In children, common symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, night sweats, and bone and joint pain. Some cases of sarcoidosis resolve on their own, while others may last indefinitely. Treatment for sarcoidosis is designed to reduce inflammation and includes corticosteroids and immunosuppression therapy. Healthy lifestyle practices, including following a well-balanced diet, not smoking, and getting plenty of exercise, can help you manage your disease.

In some cases, sarcoidosis can be associated with serious or life-threatening symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails, loss or change of vision, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or seizures.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for sarcoidosis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?

The symptoms of sarcoidosis depend on the organ that is affected. Sarcoidosis is most likely to occur in the lungs, but it also commonly affects the skin, eyes, liver, or lymph nodes.... Read more about sarcoidosissymptoms

CAUSES

What causes sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is characterized by inflammation and granulomas (clumps of immune cells) that can occur in any organ of the body, but most commonly affect the lungs. Although the cause of sarcoidosis is not known, research suggests that it may be due to an extreme immune response or extreme sensitivity to certain substances. It also seems to have a genetic component, meaning that it tends to run in families.... Read more about sarcoidosiscauses

TREATMENTS

How is sarcoidosis treated?

Treatment for sarcoidosis begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. The primary goal of treatment for sarcoidosis is to decrease inflammation and reduce the size of granulomas. Treatment can also help to reduce symptoms, increase organ function, and prevent pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs). Treatment will depend on the severity and location of the sarcoidosis.... Read more about sarcoidosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System