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Posted on March 11, 2008 by

This website is called www.WhatsEating.us – It’s a Sarcoidosis website for Sarkies

What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a multi-system disorder, which usually affects the lungs first. More than 90% of patients have lung involvement, but sarcoidosis can affect any organ in the body, including the lungs, skin eyes, heart, brain and bones. The word “sarcoidosis” derives from the Greek words “sarko” and “oid” which means flesh-like. It is pronounced (SAR-COY-DO-SIS).

It causes inflammation when the immune system does not function properly. In sarcoidosis, white blood cells become overactive when they leave the bloodstream and form clumps called granulomas (gran-yu-LO-mas) inflamed tissue that can be deposited in the lungs and other organs in your body.

What causes Sarcoidosis?
The cause remains unknown and the way it develops remains a mystery. Some studies have suggested various environmental factors as possible triggers including infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, dust or chemicals.

The disease can cause lung scarring that leads to shortness of breath, inflammation that causes joint pain, irregular heart rhythms, liver and kidney damage, and lumps and discolored patches on the skin.

When someone does have sarcoidosis, they must be closely monitored. The worst-case scenarios can be serious and disabling, including effects on the heart, lungs, liver, eyes and brain.

Sarcoidosis can be misdiagnosed and can go undiagnosed. Other diseases like asthma, tuberculosis and lymphoma, a type of cancer must be ruled out.

Who gets Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis affects people of all ages and races. African-Americans and Northern Europeans have the highest rate. People of Irish, German, Puerto Rican, Scandinavian and Asian descent are also the most common affected. Approximately 11 out of 100,000 Caucasians and 40 out of 100,000 African-Americans are affected. In the United States, the disease affects African-Americans more often and more severely than Caucasians. Women have a higher rate of the disease.

What are the symptoms?
The lungs are generally the first to be affected. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, and dry cough. Other symptoms include feeling ill, weight loss, fatigue, skin rashes, enlarged lymph nodes, eye burning, itching, tearing, seeing floaters, inflammation, sinus infections, hoarseness, headaches, weakness, numbness, facial palsy, joint pain, arthritis, enlarged liver and spleen. Occasionally the heart, gastrointestinal tract liver and kidneys are affected.

How is Sarcoidosis detected?
A chest x-ray is performed first to check for lung involvement or to see if the lymph nodes are enlarged. Other imaging tests like CT scans may help diagnose sarcoidosis. Biopsies of various tissues may also be used to help diagnose sarcoidosis.

What are the treatments for Sarcoidosis?
Patients that are affected more severely may receive corticosteroids, such as prednisone or methylprednisone. Some patients may receive other drugs that suppress the immune system, for example methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine, chlorambucil or cyclophophamide.

Not all patients respond to treatment. Some patients may take prednisone to keep their sarcoidosis under control, while others may take little or no medication.

Is there a cure?
Currently there is no cure.

The Symptoms are as follows:

  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Skin lesions
  • Skin rash
  • Headache
  • Visual changes
  • Neurological changes
  • Enlarged lymph glands (armpit lump)
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue (one of the most common symptoms in children)
  • Weight loss (one of the most common symptoms in children)

Additional symptoms of this disease:

  • Tearing, decreased
  • Seizures
  • Nosebleed – symptom
  • Joint stiffness
  • Hair loss
  • Eye burning, itching, and discharge
  • Abnormal breath sounds (such as rales)

Note: There may be no symptoms. Most of the time, the disease is found in patients with no symptoms who have an abnormal chest x-ray.

 

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