Sarcoidosis is a disease that affects the lungs, eyes, lymph nodes and skin. The disease produces and grows tiny groupings of inflammatory cells within these various areas of the body. Most experts believe that sarcoidosis is an immune-related condition. Most often, treatment will not be necessary because if the case is mild, it will go away on its own. If symptoms do arise, there are medications that can help.
It is believed that sarcoidosis is caused when an unknown element (such as a toxin, pathogen or drug) enters the immune system causing it to overact. In most individuals, the immune system is in place to help protect the body from these invading substances, but when someone has sarcoidosis, the immune system is triggered and responds aggressively with inflammation.
Signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis will vary from person to person. Some symptoms will be very mild if present at all. In other cases, a persistent cough, feeling of fatigue, weight loss, a rash on the face, arms or buttocks and shortness of breath can be present. Symptoms may come and go over the course of time. In some cases, arthritis will develop around the joints causing pain in areas where a thin area of skin exists (i.e. the elbow, shin, ankle). If this prompts one to see a doctor, the condition of sarcoidosis can be diagnosed.
Sarcoidosis is diagnosed in several stages. Depending on the stage and symptoms that are present, medication may or may not be prescribed. There are drugs available (including steroids and inflammatory medications such as methotrexate, azathioprine and Plaquenil) that can be given to help manage the symptoms associated with sarcoidosis.