What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can adversely affect many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, eyes, liver, and skin. Patients affected by this disease may or may not experience symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can involve almost any organ system and include:
- Respiratory problems, including pain behind the chest bone, wheezing, dry cough, and shortness of breath
- General discomfort or uneasiness , which can include fatigue, fever, joint pain, weight loss, and overall feelings of illness and lack of well-being
- Skin issues , such as hair loss, rash, raised or inflamed scars, or red and firm skin sores
- Nervous system problems which may include seizures, poor coordination, tremors, headache, difficulty hearing, or weakness on one side of the face
- Eye symptoms, such as burning, dry eyes, pain, vision fluctuations, or discharge
- Other symptoms include nosebleed, swelling in the upper abdomen, muscle weakness, fainting spells, and dry mouth
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, but medical scientists believe that the disease occurs due to a malfunctioning of the immune system. This reaction may possibly be triggered by exposure to an infectious agent, such as a bacterium or virus, or an environmental toxin or allergen. Most scientists agree that genetic factors may contribute to an individual’s risk for developing this disease.
Sarcoidosis has no known cure. Once a diagnosis has been made, there are various medications that can be administered in the effort to alter the course of the disease. Corticosteroids are the most common treatment, followed by other drugs, such as methotrexate. Unfortunately, each available treatment is only used with varying success and comes with a range of side effects.
April is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month. If you are interested in learning more about this unfortunate disease, visit the National Sarcoidosis Society website or contact the healthcare experts at Regional Medical Center of San Jose at (408) 259-4000.