What Is Sarcoidosis?

What is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis (also know as sarcoid), is a non-contagious auto-immune disease which causes inflammation and possible scarring of the body's tissues.

Sarcoidosis may affect any organ or system within the body including the:

  • eyes
  • skin
  • bones
  • spleen

Sarcoidosis often starts in either the lungs or the lymph nodes (small organs of the immune system). The inflammation causes granulomas - small lumps in the tissue. For example, small raised patches on the face are a sign that the skin may be affected.

The musculoskeletal system can be affected by sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis can cause muscle pain or muscle weakness. In the joints, sarcoidosis can lead to a granulomatous form of arthritis. Sarcoidosis can also cause painless holes and swelling in the bones.

The onset of sarcoidosis is usually gradual - sarcoidosis symptoms normally develop later and many patients exhibit no symptoms at all.

Sarcoidosis is more common in women than men, and more common in adults between 20 and 40 years of age (see incidence of sarcoidosis).

Acute Sarcoidosis

About 75 percent of patients have the acute form of sarcoidosis. About half of these have no long term damage or significant problems. Sarcoidosis is often a mild condition with no permanent damage to the body's tissue.

Chronic Sarcoidosis

about 25 percent of patients develop chronic sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis can be present for years causing organ and system damage whilst reducing the patients physical activity. Scarring of the tissue in the lungs, skin eyes or other organs is common.

A number of tests can be used when diagnosing sarcoidosis. A physical examination of the patient may show sarcoidosis symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, redness in the eyes and red bumps on the skin.

Other methods for diagnosing sarcoidosis include:

  • Chest X Ray
  • Pulmonary Function Test
  • Blood Test
  • Fiber optic Bronchoscopy
  • CT Scan
  • MR Scan
  • Eye Test
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage
  • Thallium & Gallium Scans

Many patients receive no treatment for sarcoidosis - in up to 60 percent of cases treatment is not needed. When treatment is required it is usually for chronic sarcoidosis which is affecting critical organs such as the lungs, eyes or heart.

Drugs used to treat sarcoidosis include:

  • Prednisone
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Methotrexate
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Azathioprine

For sarcoidosis patients, the chances of recovering from this disease is good.

Note: - sarcoidosis can cause other conditions such as hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels ) and hypercalciura (high urine calcium levels). These conditions can lead to kidney stones.