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National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month brings attention to sarcoidosis and encourages further research into this rare condition. There are more than 200,000 people in the US with sarcoidosis, according to the CHEST Foundation.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which the immune system goes into overdrive, causing cells to group together into clumps called granulomas. While more than 90% of cases affect the lungs and lymph nodes, sarcoidosis also can cause skin and eye damage. Occasionally, those with sarcoidosis develop granulomas and inflammation in their hearts, which can trigger abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. This condition is known as cardiac sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis can affect people of any age, but 70% of patients are ages 20 to 40. In addition, women are more likely than men to develop sarcoidosis.
Many patients never have symptoms, and the disease is diagnosed only because a chest X-ray is taken for another reason. In most of these cases, the disease improves by itself. However, your overactive immune system may lead to flu-like symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Joint pain
After you’re diagnosed with sarcoidosis, your doctor will determine if you need treatment. If your symptoms are severe or organ function is threatened, you will likely be treated with medication. Organ transplant may be considered if sarcoidosis has severely damaged the lungs, heart, or liver. However, up to 30% of patients with sarcoidosis have symptoms improve without treatment. But even if there are no symptoms, patients with sarcoidosis should have breathing tests, electrocardiogram, blood tests, and an eye examination to uncover possible problems that may need to be addressed.
Watch the video, “Sarcoidosis: Seek Answers. Inspire Results.”