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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What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition of the brain that is characterized by recurrent seizures. Approximately one in ten people will experience at least one seizure during a lifetime. A single seizure, however, is not epilepsy. Epilepsy is a condition that is defined by multiple seizures.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. It is not a psychological disorder nor a disease and it is not contagious. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells or neurons that communicate through electrical and chemical signals. When there is a sudden excessive electrical discharge that disrupts the normal activity of the nerve cells, a seizure may result.
Seizures cause a change in function or behavior. A seizure may take many different forms including a blank stare, muscle spasms, uncontrolled movements, altered awareness, odd sensations, or a convulsion. The location in the brain of the abnormally discharging nerve cells determines the form the seizure will take. Seizures may occur rarely or as often as numerous times a day. If the condition is successfully controlled by medication, a person may be seizure free.
Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological disorders. An estimated 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. That means approximately one percent of the general population has epilepsy.
When someone is having a seizure here is what you can do:
- Stay calm.
- Time the seizure – Usually there is no need for a trip to the hospital, unless the seizure lasts longer than five minutes (not including the postictal (is the altered state of consciousness after an epileptic seizure) phase), the person has more than one seizure in a row, or if a person is injured, pregnant, or has diabetes.
- Remove objects that may cause harm – clear the area of sharp or dangerous objects.
- Do not hold the person down or restrain their movement.
- Do not put anything in the person’s mouth: it is not possible for someone to swallow their tongue.
- Turn the person on his or her side as the seizure ends to allow saliva or other fluids to drain away and keep airway clear.
- Do not offer food or drink until the person is fully alert.
- Stay with the person until they are fully alert and thinking clearly. Reassure the person when consciousness returns.
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Also March 26 is Purple Day where your encouraged to wear purple to increase awareness.