Sarcoidosis is a disease that affects people all over the world, and in some cases (although rare) it can be fatal . It is a complex and rare condition that can have a significant emotional, social and occupational impact for people who suffer from it.
What is sarcoidosis? What are your causes?
Sarcoidosis is defined as a systemic granulomatous disease. That is, it is characterized by the appearance of clusters of inflammatory cells (granulomas) in different parts of the body depending on the patient.
The most common is that these granulomas occur especially in the lungs and lymph nodes , although they can also affect the eyes, skin, heart and other organs.
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown , although the most widely accepted hypothesis is that it is caused by an immune reaction to some unknown environmental factor in conjunction with a possible genetic predisposition. It is also considered that it may derive from an autoimmune response to certain proteins that are found naturally in the human body.
What are your symptoms?
The specific symptoms will depend on the system affected by the appearance of granulomas. Thus, since it is most common in the lungs and / or lymph nodes, in most cases the condition is characterized by pulmonary symptoms (fatigue, dry cough, respiratory distress, ‘whistles’ (wheezing) breathing) and chest pain or pressure, alone or in conjunction with swollen glands.
If, on the contrary, it affects the skin , the symptoms may include rashes (usually on the legs), ulcers on the face, darkening or lightening of the skin, and the formation of nodules (subcutaneous lumps).
In its ocular manifestation, the main symptoms are blurred vision, eye pain, burning or dry eyes, irritation, and in some cases the appearance of lumps.
Finally, if it attacks the heart , the patient may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, fatigue, arrhythmias, palpitations, and cardiac edema.
Additionally, in the rarest cases in which it affects other organs (liver, kidneys, nervous system) it can cause a wide range of varied symptoms (neurological, liver, kidney …).
It occurs mostly in people between the ages of 20 and 60 , with women having a slightly higher incidence than men. Likewise, it is also more common among people of Nordic or African descent. Family history is also considered a risk factor.
Can it be treated?
To date, there is no known cure for sarcoidosis , but in most cases it is self-limited (it remits by itself) and in fact in many cases it is asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms.
When the condition is more severe , there are several drug treatments that have been shown to be effective, including corticosteroids, immune system inhibitors, hydroxychloriquine, and tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitors.
This is usually complemented with treatments aimed at alleviating symptoms , such as physical therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation or implantation of a pacemaker in cardiac manifestations.
It usually responds well to treatment and, as we said, in most cases it remits after a while. Despite these, there may be cases in which it becomes chronic and / or no improvement is experienced with treatment. In very few cases (about 1%) it can lead to death.