Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease. Even though it generally affects the lungs and lymph glands, but it may also cause problems in other organs. Granulomas or abnormal nodules or masses form in different organs. Such nodules contain inflamed tissues. Granulomas could be dangerous as they alter the normal structure of the organs, which may result in change of the function of them.
The symptoms that Sarcoidosis produce may be different depending on the organ it's affecting. In general, dry cough, breathing shortness and fatigue are some of the common symptoms of Sarcoidosis. Other symptoms that may appear in case of Sarcoidosis are
- Painful and swollen joints
- Reddish bumps or patches on the skin
- Nasal stiffness
- Hoarse voice
- Red and teary eyes or blurred vision
- Enlarged and tender lymph glands that appear in the armpits, neck, and groin
- Abnormal or missed heart beats (arrhythmias)
- Inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericarditis),
- Heart failure
- Pain in the hands, feet, or other areas because of formation of cysts in bones
- Kidney stone formation
- Enlarged lymph glands in the chest and around the lungs
- Enlarged liver
- Nervous system problems that include meningitis, hearing loss, seizures etc.
- Psychiatric disorders that include depression, dementia, psychosis
These symptoms may appear suddenly and subside after a short duration. Sometimes, even after the organs are affected, outward symptoms may not appear at all. Some other patients may show symptoms that appear slowly but stay for a long duration.
Doctors still don't know the exact cause of sarcoidosis. It is found to be an autoimmune disease that results in abnormal immune response. Researchers are still studying how sarcoidosis spreads from one area to another.
Diagnosis of sarcoidosis is tricky because the symptoms and the results of the laboratory tests may also appear in other medical conditions. So the doctor will need your medical history and will have to carefully diagnose see if you are suffering from sarcoidosis.
Some of the main diagnostic tools used for the diagnosis of sarcoidosis are –
It is used for finding out swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) or cloudiness (pulmonary infiltrates) in the patient.
CT scan is used to get a more detailed look at the lungs and lymph nodes of the patient.
Bronchoscopy is a method of inspecting the bronchial tubes. It also allows extraction of a small tissue sample (biopsy) to find if there is any granulomas formation in the organs. It also helps to find out any type of infection. In this method, a small tube is sent through the trachea (windpipe) which goes to the bronchial tubes (airways) of the lungs.
Pulmonary function (breathing) tests
This is a test done to check the working condition of the lungs.
At present no cure is available for sarcoidosis. It takes some time to get better from the attack. Many of the patients who suffer from sarcoidosis show only mild symptoms and do not need any treatment. Treatment can be used to reduce the symptoms and to ensure the correct working of the affected organs.
Treatment of sarcoidosis can be divided into two categories
- treatment for maintaining good health practices
- drug treatment
Good health practices necessary for the patients include
- Having regular checkups with the doctor
- Eating a well-balanced diet and including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Drinking 8 -10, glasses of water every day
- Sleeping for six to eight hours of sleep every night
- Exercising regularly and maintaining the ideal weight
- Quitting smoking
Medicine treatments are necessary for offering relief from the symptoms and for reduction of inflammation of the tissues affected.