Sarcoidosis Picture

Sarcoidosis: Symptoms, Picture, Diagnosis and Treatment

Sarcoidosis refers to the clumps or bumps formation on any part of your body. It occurs due to the growth of inflammatory cells known as granulomas. The tiny collection of cells appears when your immune system reacts to some unknown substances. But, the exact reason that triggers the issues remains unclear. Several substances, including dust, chemicals, infectious agents or even your by proteins (self-proteins) can result in the formation of the granulomas. So, if you have predisposed genetics, then you can often see the growth in areas like the heart, skin, eyes or other organs in your body. The condition has no permanent cure. But, you can see differences with simple treatment methods. Some people see the problem fade away on its own after some time. The issue remains dormant in your system and never goes away. Therefore, you need to seek medical assistance to ensure it causes no further complication like organ damage.

What Is Sarcoidosis?

It is the inflammatory disease caused due to your body’s immune system responding to foreign substances. It can result in the formation of granulomas that can affect the function of the organs. The clumps of inflammatory cells can develop in the organs. It is the reaction of your body to substances like chemicals, bacteria, or viruses. So, sarcoidosis can affect the following areas in your body like:

  • Brain
  • Spleen
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Eyes
  • Skin

The exact cause of the granulomas formation remains unknown to the scientific community. It mostly affects people who have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease. So, the attack of foreign substances like dust, chemicals, bacteria or virus can trigger the issue. It can cause an overreaction of the immune system. So, your immune cells begin to react. It results in the pattern of inflammation in different parts of the body. The inflammation referred to as granulomas can affect the function of the affected organs. Therefore, you can see adverse effects on your body. It can trigger several signs that make you uncomfortable.

Risk Factors Associated With Sarcoidosis

SarcoidosisNot everyone can get affected by granulomas. Certain factors can make you more susceptible to the problem. So, the factors that put you at risk of the problem are:

Age

Sarcoidosis can affect people of any age. But, the problem is more prevalent among people who have the ages between twenty and sixty years.

Sex

Women are more prone to the issue compared to men. So, women need to monitor the signs observed on their body.

Race

The race also plays a part in making you prone to the problem. People of North European and African descent are affected by the disease more. While African Americans can experience sarcoidosis in just the lungs, but also other organs.

Family History

Genetic factors also play an important part in making you prone to the disease. So, if you have a family member with sarcoidosis, then your risk increases.

Symptoms Of Sarcoidosis

The symptoms of granulomas inflammation may not have any symptoms. But, in some cases, you can see several signs. The general signs associated with sarcoidosis include:

You can also experience symptoms based on the location the granulomas inflammation occurs. Any organ can get affected by the problem. So, depending on the region of occurrence, you can experience signs.

Lungs

Lungs

It is the most common place of occurrence of granulomas inflammation. It can affect the lungs and trigger signs like:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain around the breastbone region
  • Wheezing

Skin

When granulomas inflammation occurs on your skin, it can cause signs like:

  • Hair loss
  • Skin Rashes
  • Raised Scars
  • Skin sores

Nervous System

When sarcoidosis occurs in the nervous system, then you can see severe signs. The different symptoms include the following:

Eyes

The granulomas inflammation in the eye can affect your vision and cause other problems. The common issues associated with sarcoidosis in the eyes are:

  • Loss of vision
  • Itchy eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Burning sensation in your eyes
  • Pain in your eyes
  • Discharge from your eyes

Sarcoidosis Diagnosis

If you observe the signs or symptoms mentioned above, then see a doctor. The symptoms indicate you suffer from some issue. But, to make a precise diagnosis, your doctor must perform several diagnostic tests. The symptoms for the issue resembles the problems that accompany other serious health problems like cancer or arthritis. Therefore, your doctor runs different tests to come to a precise conclusion. To make the diagnosis accurate, your doctor can perform the following:

Physical Examination

The doctor first performs a thorough physical examination to check the different things. The main factors your doctor may detect during the assessment are:

Depending on the results of the diagnosis, your doctor can suggest tests. The other tests can provide comprehensive details and helps your doctor make a proper conclusion.

Blood Tests

The different markers in the blood can help detect the kidney and liver function. So, with the test, your doctor can detect the sarcoidosis in the kidney or liver.

X-Ray

The x-ray offers images of the organs. With the chest x-ray image, your doctor can detect the presence of swollen lymph nodes or granulomas. So, it is helpful in finding the granulomas in the lungs.

CT Scan

The chest CT scan can provide cross-sectional images of the chest region. So, it can detect the presence of sarcoidosis in the lungs.

Lung Function Test

Lung Function Test

The tests help determine your lung capacity and any problem affecting it. So, your doctor can find out how well your lungs work.

Biopsy

Your doctor can take the tissue sample from the suspected area and send it to the lab. The lab tissue is checked for granulomas. So, the biopsy can offer a conclusive result on detecting the problem.

Sarcoidosis Treatment Methods

You need to know that you have no specific cure available to treat sarcoidosis. The treatment options available can only reduce the symptoms of an inflammatory disease. Different treatment options can provide you relief from the distress associated with the problem. In mild cases of the granulomas, the symptoms may disappear without any treatment. But, in other cases, you need the treatment to ease the distress associated with the problem. So, your doctor provides you with treatment options that can alleviate the distress you suffer in the following organs:

  • Nervous System
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Eyes

The treatment option and duration depend on the severity of the issue. So, your doctor can decide on the ideal one based on the signs you suffer. In mild cases with no signs, you may not require any treatment. The problem may ease after some time. But, severe signs require the following treatment methods:

Medications

The first line of treatment includes taking medications to prevent adverse effects on your vital organs. The symptoms of the problem can affect the function of your organs. So, your doctor can suggest the following medications:

Corticosteroids

It is the most popular and effective treatment for the problem. Corticosteroids are the powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that alleviate the pain. So, it is the first line of treatment opted by your doctor for sarcoidosis. The medication is applied directly to the affected area. So, you can apply it as cream on your skin or drops in the eyes to get relief.

Immunosuppressant Drugs

Sarcoidosis occurs due to your body’s reaction to the unknown chemicals or other allergens. So, your doctor can prescribe immunosuppressant drugs. It is the medication that suppresses the reaction of your immune system. It can reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Therefore, you need to take medication that contains azathioprine and methotrexate to ease the signs.

Hydroxychloroquine

Hydroxychloroquine

It is the medication that is effective in curing malaria. But, the medicine sold under the brand name Plaquenil can also alleviate skin lesions. It also can prove effective in bringing your calcium levels to normal. People with sarcoidosis can experience elevated blood-calcium levels.

TNF-Alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha) Inhibitors

TNF-Alpha inhibitors are the common medications prescribed by your doctor to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It is useful when you fail to respond to the other treatment. Therefore, you need to take the medications to get relief from the distress caused by the issue.

The treatment using medication may vary depending on the severity of the issue and your reaction to the medicines. In some cases, you have to take medicines for two years to see changes. Some people take medications for a longer duration to get relief.

Other Treatment Options

You need other treatment options to alleviate the other issues. Depending on the symptoms you face, your doctor can suggest different treatment options like:

  • To reduce fatigue and improve your strength, you need physical therapy. It can improve your symptoms.
  • If you experience adverse respiratory symptoms, then your doctor suggests pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • Heart problems like arrhythmias need defibrillator or cardiac pacemaker to reduce the distress associated with the problem.

Infertility Treatment

Women who suffer from inflammation of the granulomas can suffer from infertility. So, they need to consult a gynecologist to get infertility treatment. The treatment can help them conceive and bear a child.

Surgery

Your doctor opts for an invasive procedure when you experience severe adverse effects due to the problem. In cases of extensive organ damage due to sarcoidosis, you need an organ transplant. So, the transplant of new liver, heart, and lungs can offer you a lease of life.

Frequent Monitoring

Ongoing monitoring is also a significant part of the treatment plan. You need to see your doctor regularly to check for symptoms. Even if you don’t require treatment, it is necessary to monitor your signs. It can also help your doctor understand the effectiveness of the treatment you undergo. Regular tests can detect your body’s response to the treatment. So, your doctor can suggest the following tests to detect any problems:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine Analysis
  • X-rays
  • EKGs
  • Monitor lung function
  • Eye examination
  • Skin testing

Remember the disease has no permanent cure. So, you need follow-up care for your entire life. With constant monitoring, your doctor can identify any signs of flare ups or other issues. It will help you manage the symptoms better without any complications.

Complications Due To Sarcoidosis

Every person may not experience complications when they fail to get treatment for the condition. But, some can experience severe effects. You must never take the risk. So, get advice from your doctor as soon as possible to get relief from the problem. The possible long-term problems you can face when you ignore the problem are:

Lungs

The sarcoidosis in the pulmonary region can cause severe damage to the organ. So, failure to get treatment can result in permanent lung scarring or pulmonary fibrosis. It can make it difficult for you to breathe properly. So, the issue can lead to pulmonary hypertension.

Eyes

Ignoring the inflammation in the eye can affect the different parts of the organ. You can even face damage to the retina. So, it can eventually cause blindness in patients suffering from the issue. In rare cases, the problem triggers glaucoma and cataracts, which can affect your vision.

Kidney

The granulomas can affect your body’s way of handling calcium. So, the wrong handling of calcium can lead to the development of kidney stones. The problem can also reduce kidney function, which can lead to kidney failure.

Heart

The heart is the vital organ in your body that pumps oxygenated blood required for all organs. The development of granulomas in your heart can disrupt your heart rhythm. So, it affects your normal heart function and subsequent blood flow to other organs. In some rare cases, the problem can result in a fatal complication.

Nervous System

Nervous System

Some of the patients suffering from a possible immune disorder can develop problems in their central nervous system. It is due to the formation of the granulomas in the regions like the brain as well as the spinal cord. The inflammation can also affect the facial nerves leading to loss of function in the face muscles (facial paralysis).

Infertility

In women, the problem can sometimes lead to infertility. So, women in their childbearing age find it difficult to conceive.

The serious complications can make your life hell. Therefore, you need to see your doctor to know the severity of the issue.

Preventing Sarcoidosis

The immune system disorder can affect any person who has a genetic makeup, which makes them susceptible to such disease. It is the immune system disorder that triggers inflammation in different organs of your body. But, what exactly causes the problem remains a mystery. Therefore, finding a cure or predicting the right method to prevent it becomes impossible. It does not mean that you cannot avoid the problem. You can adopt some steps in your life, which can reduce your risk of getting affected by the disease. Or people already affected can stay in remission with the precautionary steps. It will reduce your chances of getting the problem again. So, you can follow the pointers like:

Quit Smoking

The granulomas can develop in any part of the body. But, 90% of the patients suffer the issue in their lungs. Therefore, any habit that affects the lungs negatively can worsen the problem. Smoking has a deleterious effect on your lungs. Therefore, smoking or exposing yourself to secondhand smoke can put at risk of the issue. In order for the problem to stop recurring, you need to quit smoking.

Take Medication

People with prior history of the disease need to take their medications as suggested by the doctor. It controls the symptoms. With a religious intake of medications, you can also avoid a relapse. When you see the signs or symptoms during the remission again, restart your medications. Taking steroid medication can avoid a flare-up. Talk to your doctor before taking steroids like prednisone.

Follow-Up Appointments

People who have suffered sarcoidosis need to go for a regular appointment with their doctor. You need to see your pulmonologist or the lung specialist to see if the issue flares up. So, get an appointment for a regular checkup every six months or at least once a year to detect any problems. The doctors can perform chest x-ray to look for signs of suggestive recurrence of the disease.

Understand Your Symptoms

You need to understand the different symptoms associated with the disease. It will help you detect any new symptoms, you have to see your doctor. By knowing the symptoms, you can get immediate healthcare to know relapse as well as remission.

Conclusion

People suffering from sarcoidosis may never suffer from severe complications when they seek treatment. You can continue to live an active and healthy life with good medical care. You can see the symptoms improving within two years with or without treatment. Just get in touch with your doctor to understand its effect on your body. In some cases, ignoring the problem can lead to long-term effects. Learn more about the condition and join a support group to mentally cope with the health issue. When you talk to professionals, you get guidance to deal with the problem better. Therefore, get professional guidance to deal with the problem better and ensure a good life.

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