April is Sarcoidosis Awareness Month: Facts About this Mystery Condition

Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease that affects a small portion of the population, and not much is known about why it occurs. It's characterized by small clusters that can form in the body as an overactive response from the immune system. The body's immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, and the reason for this response is still unknown. However, there are a few things you should know about this disease.

Sarcoidosis can afflict different parts of the body, including the eyes, lungs, brain and kidneys.

The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research has named April Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, to put some focus on this mysterious disease. Like COPD, the symptoms for sarcoidosis can be very subtle and can either be completely overlooked and go undiagnosed, or mistaken for other conditions. What should you watch out for, and when should you go see a doctor?

Early Warning Signs of Sarcoidosis:

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's website, the common signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis are fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and bone and joint pain. If the sarcoidosis is located in the lungs, you would experience unusual shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. The lymph nodes in your neck, chin, armpits, groin or chest might also become inflamed and swollen. Swollen glands are a more less common symptom.

What is Lofgren's Syndrome?

When some people first develop sarcoidosis, it can become a set of symptoms that can include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, arthritis in the ankles (more common in women), and a rash of reddish purple bumps that have a burning sensation (more common in women). Not all people exhibit these symptoms when first developing Sarcoidosis.

Who is At Risk of Getting Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is not contagious, but it can be hereditary. Out of the population, those of African descent are statistically at the highest risk of developing sarcoidosis, as well as those of Scandinavian, German, Irish and Puerto Rican descent.

Sarcoidosis usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40, but in less common cases, children and older adults. It's often the case that people might develop it at a young age, but the condition doesn't become apparent enough, and goes dormant until later in life. A minor flare-up can be mistaken for a run of the mill sickness, like the flu, which seems to take longer to go away.

How is Sarcoidosis Treated?

If the condition is mild, you may only be advised to eat healthily, drink 8 8 oz glasses of water a day, and exercise. If it's moderate to severe, you might be prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid like prednisone. With a corticosteroid, the condition can become less severe to the point of not needing the corticosteroid, at least for a while. A healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of experiencing a relapse of severity of sarcoidosis.

What Causes COPD?

It might seen as hereditary or found mostly in a few different ethnic groups, but medical research has yet to tell us exactly why it occurs, and how we can help prevent it. We know why people develop things like COPD, and we know how to help prevent cancer, but further studies need to be done on sarcoidosis. All we can say is to keep practicing healthy living habits.

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