Sarcoidosis – Symptoms and Causes of Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis (SARakoi-do’sis) involves inflammation that produces tiny lumps of cells in various organs in your body. The lumps are called granulomas (gran”u-lo’mahs) because they look like grains of sugar or sand. They are very small and can be seen only with a microscope. Sarcoidosis (pronounced SAR-COY-DOE-SIS) is a devastating, potentially fatal inflammatory disease that can appear in almost any organ in the body. Although the lungs are affected in more than 90% of patients, the disease often attacks the heart, eyes, central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Once thought rare, sarcoidosis is now known to be common and affects people worldwide. The cause remains unknown and there is no cure.
Sarcoidosis (SAR-coy-DOH-sis) is an inflammatory disease characterized by granulomas (small rounded outgrowths made up of blood vessels, cells and connective tissues) that can produce many different symptoms. It is generally a chronic disease, lasting for several years or a lifetime. Some people, however, may have a type that only lasts a few months.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, but mostly the lungs and lymph glands. In patients with sarcoidosis, abnormal masses or nodules (called granulomas) consisting of inflamed tissues form in certain organs of the body. These granulomas might alter the normal structure and possibly the function of the affected organ(s).
Symptoms of Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease that can affect any organ. Common symptoms are vague, such as fatigue unchanged by sleep, lack of energy, weight loss, aches and pains, arthralgia, dry eyes, blurry vision, shortness of breath, a dry hacking cough or skin lesions. The cutaneous symptoms vary, and range from rashes and noduli (small bumps) to erythema nodosum or lupus pernio. It is often asymptomatic.
Shortness of breath (dyspnea) and a cough that won’t go away can be among the first symptoms of sarcoidosis. But sarcoidosis can also show up suddenly with the appearance of skin rashes. Red bumps (erythema nodosum) on the face, arms, or shins and inflammation of the eyes are also common symptoms.
In pulmonary sarcoidosis, patients may have a dry cough (without sputum), shortness of breath, or mild chest pain.
The lungs are affected in about 88% of people who have sarcoidosis. People who have sarcoidosis may have a cough or chest pain. Some people have breathing problems, but most people have few or no breathing problems.
In its earliest stages, sarcoidosis may cause few if any symptoms; and those that do occur may be general ones, like those of many other conditions, such as feeling tired, losing weight, fever, and joint pains. Sometimes sarcoidosis that has caused no symptoms is found by chance on a routine chest X-ray.
Causes of Sarcoidosis
Some physicians believe that sarcoidosis may result from a respiratory infection caused by a virus. Others suspect that exposure to toxins or allergens in the environment is to blame. Researchers are looking for answers to this and many other questions about sarcoidosis.
Normally, your immune system helps protect your body from foreign substances and invading microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses. But in sarcoidosis, T-helper lymphocytes – white blood cells that play a key role in your immune response a” seem to respond too strongly to a perceived threat. This triggers small areas of inflammation called granulomas.
Granulomas are clusters of immune cells (macrophages, lymphocytes, and multinucleated giant cells). The disease can affect almost any organ of the body, although it most commonly affects the lungs. Sarcoidosis can be acute, subacute, or chronic.