What is sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a systemic disorder which can affect any organ of the body – most commonly the lungs, skin and eyes.
It is a rare condition that causes small patches of red and swollen tissue, called granulomas, to develop in the organs of the body.
What causes sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis is thought to be an overreaction of the body’s immune system where, after fighting an infection, the white blood cells begin to attack the body’s own tissue. This is also known as an autoimmune condition.
In the UK around 1 in every 10,000 people have sarcoidosis and every year around 3,000 to 4,000 people are diagnosed with the condition. Sarcoidosis is prevalent in both men and women and can occur at any age, but commonly affects adults in their 30s or 40s.
What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?
In addition to the granulomas mentioned above, symptoms may also include a shortness of breath, a persistent cough, pains in joints, muscles or bones or numbness/weakness of the face, arms and/or legs.
Patients with sarcoidosis may feel tired and lethargic (fatigued), lose weight or experience fevers and night sweats.
Sometimes, the symptoms of sarcoidosis start suddenly and don’t last long. In other patients, the symptoms may develop gradually and last for many years.
People with acute sarcoidosis may have sudden symptoms which won’t last very long such as: swollen glands, fever, tiredness, joint pains and lumps or rashes on the legs.
People with chronic sarcoidosis will have fewer symptoms, but the condition will last for longer and can get worse over time.
Some people don’t have any apparent symptoms at all and are told they have sarcoidosis after having a routine chest X-ray or other investigations.
Sarcoidosis is very rarely fatal and is often a subsidiary of other issues such as lung and heart conditions.