Sarcoidosis disease is a condition in which a patient’s immune system cells do not go away after dealing with a potential infection. These cells come together forming granulomas, or lumps, which are manifested as inflammation. The disease can attack any organ in the body but is most commonly begun in the lungs, lymph nodes, or skin. From these starting points, sarcoidosis can spread anywhere, frequently attacking the eyes or liver. In rarer, but more serious cases, the disease can penetrate the heart or brain and be fatal. Granulomas that come together inside an organ can alter the way that particular organ functions, resulting in various symptoms depending on which organ in the body has been attacked.
Sarcoidosis and the immune system
It is not understood why the immune system cells do not dissipate after treatment of an infection. Thus, there is no known cause for sarcoidosis, but there are certain groups of people that are more prone to the disease. Sarcoidosis affects African Americans and Northern Europeans more than other groups and is more likely to be discovered in women. In addition, a family history of the disease can be an indicator that a person may be diagnosed with sarcoidosis. While many patients may experience no symptoms at all, some sets of sarcoidosis symptoms exist that are classified by other names. One of these common sets is known as Lofgren’s syndrome and is indicated by the presence of fever, inflamed lymph nodes, arthritis, and erythema nodosum, which is a rash comprised of purple or red bumps that appear on a patient’s shins or ankles. Generally, the rash has a tenderness and warmness when touched. Other common signs of the disease include the following: fatigue, depression, weight loss, night sweating, and skin discoloration or ulcers. Internally, sarcoidosis symptoms can include organ damage, lung scarring, or skin conditions such as lupus pernio.
Depending on which organs are affected sarcoidosis treatment can vary as well. In some cases, no treatment is needed and a natural recovery can be expected with minimal complications. In many cases where the skin is affected, a local physician will prescribe a topical medication or other pharmaceutical treatment to combat the disease. Sarcoidosis treatment is not always effective, though. For half of the patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis, remission is common within three years. In ten years after diagnosis, 67 percent of patients experience remission. However, only one in twenty patients experience a full relapse. While in remission the disease is not active. Current health research is being done to identify new and better ways to treat sarcoidosis.
Patients who notice a chronic or persistent inflammation should report the issue to a local doctor. As the disease is capable of spreading to other parts of the body, the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be treated. Sarcoidosis disease can be a minor problem or major and care should be taken to find treatment immediately after detection.