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What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder of unknown etiology, characterized histologically by noncaseating epithelioid granulomas involving various organs. The disease is characterised by the presence of non-caseating granulomas which can appear almost anywhere in the body but usually appear in either the lungs or the lymph nodes. It can

occasionally appear suddenly but more often than not appears gradually. Sarcoidosis can sometimes have the appearance of tuberculosis.

Sarcoidosis is an uncommon autoimmune disease in which chronic sites of inflammation called "granulomas" can occur in any organ in the body. Granulomas are characterized by a nodular appearance and a unique cellular pattern that can be seen through a microscope and can form on nearly any part of the body, internal or external. There are many different granulomatous diseases, from Crohn's disease to tuberculosis. The cells that make up a granuloma are from the immune system. The immune system is the body's defense against disease and illness. Its major players are the macrophages and leukocytes, cells that originate in the bone marrow and travel through the lymphatic vessels to different areas of the body.

Sarcoidosis usually starts in the lungs or lymph nodes in the chest. It is thought that inflammation of the alveoli (tiny sac like air spaces in lungs where carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged) is the start of the disease process in the lungs. This may either clear up on its own or lead to granuloma formation and fibrosis (scarring). Over 90% patients have some type of lung problem. Once considered a rare disease, sarcoidosis is now the most common of the fibrotic lung disorders. The lungs are the most frequently affected organ, and up to 90% of patients with sarcoidosis have pulmonary involvement. Cough, wheezing or shortness of breath may be the first clues of the disease, and the chest X-ray will show enlarged lymph nodes and/or streaking of the lung tissue. The heart, skin, liver, nervous system, joints, and eyes are other common locations of sarcoid.

Sarcoidosis can affect any age or race group, but is more frequent in people under 40, African-Americans, and in women. Symptoms may be very nonspecific, such as fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, fever and sweats. Sarcoidosis can affect any organ of the body, but most commonly affects the lungs, skin and eyes. The disease can develop suddenly and then disappear, or appear gradually and produce symptoms that come and go. In the latter case the disease can continue to recur over a lifetime.

More information on sarcoidosis

What is sarcoidosis? - Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder of unknown etiology, characterized histologically by noncaseating epithelioid granulomas involving various organs.
What causes sarcoidosis? - The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not known. Sarcoidosis is currently thought to be associated with an abnormal immune response.
Who is at risk of sarcoidosis? - Sarcoidosis is more commonly seen in blacks than whites, primarily people of northern European decent in the latter case.
What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis? - Symptoms of sarcoidosis include dry cough, shortness of breath, skin lesions, renal, liver and heart involvement, neuropathy.
How is sarcoidosis diagnosed? - The diagnosis of sarcoidosis is based on the patient's medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, lung function studies, and chest x-ray.
What is the treatment for sarcoidosis? - The most effective treatment for sarcoidosis is the administration of steroid medications. Sarcoidosis responds very well to steroids.
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