What is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis belongs to a category of diseases known as connective tissue disorders. Connective tissue is found in the structure of every organ and is the material that binds together the other tissues in the organ. It usually strikes first in the lungs, although many other organs of the body such as heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, skin and nervous system may also be affected. The most susceptible group of people are those aged between 20 and 50, and the disease strikes men and women equally.

What causes it?

The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, although it is thought to be connected to environmental factors. The possibility of a hereditary link has also been suggested.

What are the symptoms?

The detection of sarcoidosis can often be very difficult, as there are no specific symptoms. Patients may complain of feeling breathless and may have a sudden unexplained weight loss. They may also experience pain in their joints, sore spots on the surface of the skin and recurring infections of the iris in the eye.

The most straightforward form of sarcoidosis involves the lungs where a characteristic X-ray pattern may be revealed. Given the wide variety of systems in the body that can be affected the clinical pattern can be very variable. Sometimes extensive investigation may be required to establish the diagnosis.

Is there a cure?

While some people who develop sarcoidosis will make a full recovery within two years of the onset of the disease, with no permanent damage to their health, many may experience greater impairment and may suffer long term breathing difficulties.

There is no specific treatment available for sarcoidosis and indeed no treatment may be necessary. The treatment given depends on which organs are affected and the degree to which those organs are affected. Steroids may be prescribed in some instances particularly in the case of lung impairment.

Are there any self-help remedies?

It is most important that people with sarcoidosis refrain from smoking.

"Smoking is very harmful if the lungs are affected by sarcoidosis".

Inhaling dust and other fumes from the atmosphere will also make the symptoms of sarcoidosis worse, so try to avoid these as much as possible. Take regular exercise in the open air and try to avoid spending too much time indoors in a hot, stuffy atmosphere.

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