Doctors do not know the specific sarcoidosis causes. The condition is associated with autoimmune disease combined with an abnormal immune system. The exact reason for the unusual response is unknown. An outside substance may also trigger the growth of inflamed cells. Doctors do not know how the condition spreads throughout the body.
Sarcoidosis affects people of all ages, genders, and races. Your age, race, gender, and family history can place you at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Sarcoidosis risk factors:
- Family history—If you have a family member with sarcoidosis or an immune disorder, you may be at an increased risk.
- Age—The highest risk age range is between 20 to 60 years old.
- Gender—Women experience sarcoidosis more than men.
- Race—Sarcoidosis is more common among people of African and Northern European descent. When sarcoidosis affects individuals of African ancestry, the condition typically spreads to organs other than the lungs.
A diagnosis of sarcoidosis is commonly made through a physical examination, a review of your medical history, and a series of tests. There is no single test that can diagnose sarcoidosis. Several different types of tests can help confirm the diagnosis.
Sarcoidosis diagnosis usually starts with a medical examination. Your doctor might inspect sores, swollen joints, or other physical signs. A stethoscope might be used to listen for any abnormalities in your lungs. You might also be asked about other symptoms, such as fatigue or pain.
Tests used to diagnose sarcoidosis include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Lung function test
- Eye test
- Hearing test
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Computerized tomography (CT)
There are many different ways to treat sarcoidosis depending on the severity of the condition. Medications, surgery, and ongoing monitoring are all common sarcoidosis treatments.
You may not require any treatment for mild symptoms. Sarcoidosis is known to resolve without any treatment.
Medications are often used to treat sarcoidosis. Anti-inflammation drugs help reduce swelling and inflammation. Immunosuppressive medications reduce symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Other medications target pain reduction and healing skin lesions.
You can take medication orally or apply it directly to the affected area.
Surgical treatment for sarcoidosis is usually reserved for individuals who do not respond to other types of treatment. One common surgery for sarcoidosis is an organ transplant. Organ transplants for sarcoidosis include the liver, lungs, or heart. Organ transplant is major surgery.
Your doctor will keep track of your symptoms, evaluate treatments and check for complications. The severity of your symptoms will determine your checkup schedule. During these appointments, your doctor may perform imaging tests, urine tests, blood tests, and examinations of any affected organs. This may include your ears, lungs, eyes, heart, skin, or other organs.
Other therapies might be necessary depending on your symptoms or circumstances. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy to enhance muscle strength and reduce fatigue. You might also undergo respiratory rehabilitation. If you experience irregular heart rhythms, your doctor may implant a defibrillator or pacemaker.
In addition to these treatments, you can also practice sarcoidosis prevention practices.
Practices such as:
- Not smoking
- Drinking fluids
- Healthy nutrition
- Getting enough sleep
- Frequent checkups
Many individuals with sarcoidosis do not encounter any complications. It is possible to develop sarcoidosis that eventually resolves itself without you ever knowing you had it.
Possible sarcoidosis complications:
- Lung damage
- Organ deterioration
- Lingering symptoms
Sarcoidosis is rarely life-threatening.
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