print   Print full article

Overview

Sarcoidosis is a condition in which inflammartory cells produce nodules called granulomas in multiple organs. Granulomas can develop anywhere in the body, but they commonly affect the lungs, skin, lymph nodes, and eyes. Granulomas change the structure of the tissues aroudn them and, insufficient numbers, can cause inflammation, damage, and symptoms related to that tissue.

The cause of sarcoidosis is not known. The condition is thought to be associated with boh a genetic predisposition and the immune system's reaction to an environmental trigger, such as exposure to a virus, bacteria, allergen, or chemical. Anyone can develop sarcoidosis, but it most frequently occurs in adults of African or Northern European decent who are 20 to 40 years old of age. African Americans are the most affected group in the U.S. The foundation for Sarcoidosis Research states that nearly 2% of the African Amercian population may be affected. Research also suggests a higher rate of disease for women.

Sarcoidosis varies in severity. A person may have the diseaes without knowing it since mild cases cause few, if any, symptoms and the symptoms may be nonspecific. It can present as an acute illness that resolves on its own within a few years (remission) and may or may not recur. Sarcoidosis can also be a chronic disease that continues over time. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, more than half of those affected will go into remission within 3 years of diagnosis, and two-thirds will be in remission within 10 years.

Most people with sarcoidosis will not experience long-term health effects, but about one-third will have some degree of organ damage. Sarcoidosis can cause blindness in rare cases and can sometimes be fatal, primarily in those with severe lung or heart involvement.
 
Signs and Symptoms
The severity of sarcoidosis and the symptoms a person experiences depend upon the tissues and organs affected. A person may have no symptoms or may have nonspecific findings such as:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint pain
Signs and symptoms associated with specific organs are listed below:

Lungs
The American Lung Association estimates that as many as 90% of those with sarcoidosis will have lung involvement. Lung tissues can stiffen and scar tissue may develop. Symptoms include:
  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Skin
Up to 25% of those sarcoidosis have skin problems, including:
  • Sores on or near the cheeks, ears, nose, and eyelids
  • A raised, reddish, bumpy rash on the ankles or shins tha may itch or be tender and warm
  • Discoloured skin
  • Inflammation and nodules around scars

Eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye pain and itching
  • Burning and redness
  • Tears
  • Inflammation

Heart
Brain and Nervous System
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Decreased coordination and tremors

Muscle and Bone
  • Pain
  • Joint stiffness

Sarcoidosis can also cause kidney and liver dysfunction, an enlarged liver or spleen, and swollen salivary glands. Granulomas produce activated vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), which cause the intestines to absorb more calcium, leading to increased calcium in the blood and urine and the formation of kidney stones. In rare cases, it may cause kidney failure.

 

 








 

Last Review Date: March 18th, 2019