Sarcoidosis (Lung Inflammation): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
- Posted on- Aug 27, 2015
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Sarcoidosis is a disease that causes inflammation of the lungs. However, this type of inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, including the skin, eyes, brain, heart, and bones. In this condition, clumps of inflammatory cells develop in the affected tissue of the body. The abnormal mass of tissue, also referred to as granulomas, may eventually induce damage to the organ. Thus, the disease in the later stages interferes with the functioning of the organs, and hence, should be treated at the earliest.
Symptoms of sarcoidosis
People suffering from sarcoidosis may actually not experience any symptoms at all. In most cases, the body does not show any outward signs of this disease. Sarcoidosis is usually discovered during chest X-rays. Symptoms of sarcoidosis vary, depending on which part of the body is invaded by the disease. Symptoms also tend to differ based on the gender and age of the patient. If the disease affects the lungs, then the person may experience:
Common signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis observed in children are:
If this disease has affected the skin, then symptoms include skin lesions, rash, red bumps on the face and arms, and purple skin patches
. Sarcoidosis affecting lymph nodes (a part of immune system), give rise to swollen lymph nodes
. Generally, lymph nodes in the neck and chest are affected.
Causes of sarcoidosis
Researchers are yet to identify the triggers of sarcoidosis. Studies have not been able to pin-point the foreign particles responsible for causing this inflammatory response. There are speculations that sarcoidosis could be a fungal, viral or even a bacterial infection. However, these speculations lack concrete evidence and more research is needed to know whether infectious agents are playing any role in causing sarcoidosis.
Diagnosis of sarcoidosis
Most pulmonologists perform a physical examination to look for symptoms of sarcoidosis, such as swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, or redness in the eyes. A chest X-ray
can also help detect enlarged lymph nodes in the chest. About 95% of patients suffering from sarcoidosis show abnormal chest X-rays. The pulmonologist may also check the heart and lungs of the patient. Abnormal heartbeat
and wheezy breathing may be an indication of the heart or lungs being affected by this disease. A biopsy
, a procedure in which a sample of tissue is removed from the affected organ for examination, is the best way to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of sarcoidosis
Whether the patient needs treatment or not depends on the severity of the symptoms. Treatment is usually not given to patients who have mild symptoms of sarcoidosis, as side effects of drug therapy outweigh possible benefits. If the disease is not worsening, then the pulmonologist may not prescribe any medicines.
Drug treatment is helpful to reduce inflammation of the affected organs. Corticosteroids are effectively used to control the symptoms. These steroids relieve symptoms within 3 to 4 months and prevent lung scarring. An oral corticosteroid, known as prednisone
, is commonly used to treat this disease and majority of patients respond positively to this medicine. When these steroids are prescribed, the patient must meet the pulmonologist
for regular check-ups, so that the disorder can be monitored effectively.
Following good health practices is the best way to prevent sarcoidosis. As the disease commonly affects the lungs, one must avoid smoking. One must also avoid exposure to toxic inhalants, gases, and fumes that harm the lungs. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can also help prevent sarcoidosis.