Learn About Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is a condition that involves inflammation of multiple organs in the body, including the lungs and lymph glands. People with sarcoidosis have abnormal growths or nodules, called granulomas, in these organs that can affect the function of the organs.
It is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 40 years, although anyone can be affected. Approximately four people per 10,000 population in the United States are affected by sarcoidosis.
People with sarcoidosis with a granuloma affecting the lungs, often experience respiratory symptoms such as persistent dry cough and shortness of breath.
There are also many other symptoms that may present, depending on which organs are affected. These may include:
- Skin rash
- Blurred vision
- Inflamed and painful joints
- Enlarged lymph glands
- Enlarged liver
- Kidney stone formation
- Heart abnormalities
- Depression and anxiety
Some people find that the symptoms tend to suddenly get worse and then subside in short time periods, whereas others find that they gradually get worse over a long time.
It is difficult to diagnose sarcoidosis because all of the symptoms can also be present in other health conditions. For this reason, there are several different diagnostic tests that may be used, including:
- Chest X-rays to detect cloudiness or enlarged lymph nodes
- Computed tomography (CT) scan to examine lung structure in more detail
- Pulmonary function tests such as spirometry to measure how well the lungs are working
- Bronchoscopy to detect the presence of granulomas in the bronchial tubes or an infection that may be causing the symptoms
These tests, in combination with a history of symptoms and a physical examination, can help to determine the cause of the symptoms and make a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.
Although there is no known cure for sarcoidosis, the symptoms often resolve spontaneously over time. Additionally, some people with mild symptoms may not need any treatment. For people with severe symptoms that affect the function of the organs and have an impact on their daily life, treatment is usually needed.
Oral corticosteroid medications such as prednisone are often recommended to reduce the inflammation associated with sarcoidosis. This can also help to improve symptoms such as fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. Other medications that may be used in the treatment of sarcoidosis include Methotrexate, Hydroxychloroquine and other drugs to manage the specific symptoms that are most problematic.
What else can you do?
If you have sarcoidosis, it is important that you keep track of your health and symptoms so that you can seek advice if your symptoms start to get worse. Things that you can do to help improve your health include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a nutritious diet with adequate fruit and vegetables
- Staying hydrated by drinking adequate water
- Getting enough sleep (7-8 hours each night)
- Exercising regularly to stay fit
Want to know more?
If you think that you may have sarcoidosis, it is helpful to discuss your symptoms with a medical professional to decide upon the best course of action. At Central Arkansas Lung, we will be happy to give you personalized and professional advice about how you can manage sarcoidosis.
Simply call us if you’d like more information or to organize an appointment to discuss your symptoms.