What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a disease which affects various parts of the body. This type of condition results in areas of inflammation that can further result in pain and swelling.
Any part of the body can be affected by this disease, but the most commonly affected areas are the lungs, skin, eyes and lymph nodes. Rarely, the heart kidneys, liver and brain can also be affected.
What causes Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is known to be one of the autoimmune diseases where the body targets itself. The cause of sarcoidosis isn’t clear, but infection often precedes the first signs of the disease.
Diagnosis of sarcoidosis isn’t always easy, as many other conditions cause similar symptoms. Often, this disease is only discovered when an x-ray of the chest shows the characteristic swollen lymph nodes or shadowing in the lungs.
Examining a sample of tissue taken from affected skin or lung under the microscope is an accurate way of confirming the diagnosis.
Since the lungs are very commonly affected, tests to assess lung function are generally performed. Sarcoidosis can also cause the level of calcium in the blood to rise, which can also be measured.
How is Sarcoid diagnosed?
Diagnosis of sarcoidosis isn’t always easy, as many other conditions cause same type of symptoms. In order to confirm the diagnosis of sarcoidosis, doctors must take some time to explore and extract other possible diagnoses.
The perfect standard to confirm diagnosis is by examining a sample of tissue taken from affected skin or lung under the microscope and finding the characteristic pattern of inflammatory cells (called a granuloma or granulomatat).
The findings may involve one or more of the following tests to see the activity of the sarcoid, the organs affected, and the best place from which to do a biopsy.
What are the symptoms of Sarcoidosis?
As with many diseases, sarcoidosis is often present without causing any symptoms. When symptoms are showed, however, they either do so abruptly (acute sarcoidosis) or gradually over a number of years (chronic sarcoidosis).
Sarcoidosis can result in:
- Blurred vision
- Painful joints
- General loss of wellbeing
- Red and tender lumps usually appear on the shins (called erythema nodosum)
- Blurred vision and red eyes
- Lymph nodes enlarge and are tender
With years, chronic sarcoidosis can cause coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs become more and more inflamed, and their ability to function deteriorates. The eyes and shins can also be affected in the same way as in acute sarcoidosis.