Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect any organ or system in the body. This disease causes the body’s immune system to over-react, forming granulomas or groups of cells (nodules) that attach to other tissues and organs in the body, affecting their normal function. (A formal description of Sarcoidosis can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcoidosis)
What causes Sarcoidosis? The cause of Sarcoidosis is still unknown. It could be viral, bacterial or fungal but research has yet to determine a cause. Sarcoidosis is not contagious and research is ongoing which is why the Canadian Sarcoidosis Organization was formed.
What can Sarcoidosis affect? Sarcoidosis can affect literally any part of the body including organs, tissues, eyes, bones, skin lymphatic and nervous systems.
Who is at risk? Anyone can be at risk for Sarcoidosis regardless of race, age, sex, etc. Sarcoidosis can come on with little or no previous warning once the symptoms arise.
What are the symptoms? Symptoms are broad and vary depending on what part of the body is being affected. General symptoms can be fever, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats or just a general overall feeling of illness.
How is it diagnosed? Many symptoms of this disease mimic the symptoms of other diseases and can affect multiple areas or systems in the body at the same time. This makes it very difficult to properly or quickly come to a diagnosis. Pulmonary Sarcoidosis is typically recognizable on chest x-rays and followed up with biopsies on the affected tissues for confirmation. Biopsy of other affected organs can also help to confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated? Often times Sarcoidosis is a disease that can improve spontaneously with no treatment necessary over the course of several months. However, there is no known cure for the disease and anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone can help suppress inflammation and dissolve or shrink the granulomas or nodules. Medications can help slow progress and help reduce inflammation but are not a cure and will not reverse damage that has already been caused by granulomous scarring.