Sarcoidosis

This is an uncommon disease of unknown cause, in which clumps of immune cells called “granulomas” can invade practically any organ.ย  The most common is the lung, affected in 90% of patients, who may have cough or shortness of breath.ย  However, most patients often have no symptoms.ย  On chest x-ray, large lymph nodes (like “swollen glands”) in the center of the lungs (the “hilum”) are key to diagnosis.

Other organs may show symptoms, such  as:

  • Fatigue
  • Joints:ย  Swelling, especially if both ankles
  • Skin lumps, large or small, various colors, usually on face or upper body, or in tattoos
  • Eye:ย  Dry eyes, recurrent redness & irritation, blurry vision
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Swelling of the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes
  • Kidney stones, and loss of kidney function

If we ever find a high ESR (Sed Rate) or CRP on a blood test in someone with any of the above symptoms which we cannot easily diagnose, we’d get a chest x-ray and find classical abnormalities mentioned above.ย  A blood test for “Angiotensin Converting Enzyme” may be high, but there are false-positives & -negatives.ย  Diagnosis is made by biopsy, either of a skin lump, a lymph node, or maybe of the lung. Most patients with sarcoidosis do well; mortality may be 5% without treatment.ย  Most disability and death occur from lung complications.ย  The most common treatment is steroids, which suppress the immune system to prevent granulomas from forming.

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