What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect almost any organ in the body. It causes a person’s immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, overreacts, resulting in damage to the body’s own tissues. The common feature of sarcoidosis is the formation of granulomas, microscopic clumps of inflammatory cells that group together (that look like granules, which is where it gets its name). When too many of these clumps form in an organ they can interfere with how that organ functions.
In the US, sarcoidosis most commonly targets the lungs and lymph nodes, but the disease can and usually does affect others organs, too, including (but not limited to) the skin, eyes, liver, salivary glands, sinuses, kidneys, heart, the muscles and bones, and the brain and nervous system.
What Are the Symptoms of Sarcoidosis?
The symptoms of sarcoidosis can vary greatly, depending on which organs are involved. Most patients initially complain of a persistent dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include:
- Tender reddish bumps or patches on the skin.
- Red and teary eyes or blurred vision.
- Swollen and painful joints.
- Enlarged and tender lymph glands in the neck, armpits, and groin.
- Enlarged lymph glands in the chest and around the lungs.
- Hoarse voice.
- Pain in the hands, feet, or other bony areas due to the formation of cysts (an abnormal sac-like growth) in bones.
- Kidney stone formation.
- Enlarged liver.
- Development of abnormal or missed heart beats (arrhythmias), inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericarditis), or heart failure.
- Nervous system effects, including hearing loss, meningitis, seizures, or psychiatric disorders (for example, dementia, depression, psychosis).
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