Building Awareness of Inflammatory Disease –Sarcoidosis

Apr 15th @ 12:24 pm in News by Scott Staley

Delta County Memorial Hospital

My Name is Nancy and work at Delta County Memorial Hospital.  I was asked to share my story as it is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month in April.  I personally have chronic Sarcoidosis (of the lung). I have been suffering from this disease for about 25 years. For the first 5 years I was extremely sick with out a clear diagnosis. At one point it became pretty serious and debilitating for me. It wasn’t until I had a partial lung removed that a definitive diagnosis was finally made. Needless to say; we need more funding & research to help unravel this mysterious disease, in hopes that a cure will soon be found. I am here to help do my part in bringing public awareness & education to this disease as so many are suffering.

Here are some facts about this little known disease:

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the development and growth of tiny lumps of cells called granulomas. These granulomas most closely resemble sugar or sand in appearance. If these tiny granulomas grow and clump together in an organ, they can affect how the organ works, leading to the symptoms of Sarcoidosis. The granulomas can be found in almost any part of the body, but occur more commonly in the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, and liver.

A normal immune system would defend ones body against anything seen as foreign or harmful. Specific cells would be sent out protect the organ by releasing chemicals that would produce inflammation. By surrounding the evading substance or substances the foreign invader would then be isolated and destroyed. In a person with Sarcoidosis for whatever the reason the inflammation remains and this allows granulomas to form.

Causes

Although no one is sure what causes Sarcoidosis, it is thought by most scientists to be a disorder of the immune system. The course of the disease varies from person to person. It is know to affect people of all ages, races and gender worldwide.  Some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to developing the disease, which may be triggered by exposure to specific bacteria, viruses, dust or chemicals.  Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the genes and trigger substances associated with Sarcoidosis. This is an autoimmune disease and is NOT contagious.

To make a diagnosis of Sarcoidosis in a patient, the physician must first exclude other, known diseases that may be similar in appearance to Sarcoidosis. For example, infections like tuberculosis, and certain cancers, such as lymphomas, can mimic many of the signs and symptoms of Sarcoidosis. It is very important for a physician to thoroughly investigate a patient before giving the diagnosis of Sarcoidosis because other types of diseases might require much different treatments.

It often goes away on it’s own, but in some people symptoms of Sarcoidosis my last a lifetime.  For those who need treatment, anti-inflammatory medications can help.

No two persons with the disease are alike; therefore we could be compared to a snowflake. In fact most people with the disease look perfectly healthy from the outside.

WHERE IN THE BODY IS SARCOIDOSIS FOUND?

As much as ninety percent of Sarcoidosis cases are initially found in the lungs. However, Sarcoidosis can also occur in any other organs of the body at the same time or later in the disease course. Other commonly affected sites include the lymph nodes, skin and eyes.

Symptoms:

There may be no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can involve almost any body part or organ system in your body.

Almost all patients have lung or chest symptoms:

Symptoms of general discomfort or uneasiness often occur:

  • Fatigue (one of the most common symptoms in children)
  • Fever
  • Joint achiness or pain (arthralgia)
  • Overall feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being
  • Weight loss (one of the most common symptoms in children)
  • ness or pain (arthralgia)
  • Overall feeling of discomfort, illness, or lack of well-being
  • Weight loss (one of the most common symptoms in children)

Skin symptoms:

  • Hair loss
  • Raised, red, firm skin sores (erythema nodosum), almost always on the front part of the lower legs
  • Rash Scars that become raised or inflamed

Nervous system symptoms may include:

Eye symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Dry eyes
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Vision loss

Other symptoms of this disease:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fainting spells if the heart is involved
  • Nosebleed
  • Swelling in the upper part of the abdomen

 

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL COURSE OF SARCOIDOSIS?
In most cases of Sarcoidosis with little or no symptoms, the disease disappears of its own accord, and no treatment is necessary.

If the lung Sarcoidosis is severe, or if the disease spreads to the skin or other organs, then there is a greater chance that the Sarcoidosis will become chronic and resistant to treatment.

The most serious outcome of chronic Sarcoidosis is the development of pulmonary fibrosis, where the lung tissues become scarred and weakened. The end result is poorly functioning lungs, shortness of breath and severe disability.

If there is enough interest in DeltaCountythen Nancywill consider starting a Sarcoidosis Support Group in our community. Please feel free to email Nancyat: sarc.survivor@yahoo.com if you or a loved one suffers from this disease.

Delta County Memorial Hospital is a non-profit, 49 bed district hospital serving Delta County families for the past 90 years.

“ Here for your health.”

www.deltahospital.org 

For Additional Information Contact:  Patti Kalahar, Manager of Education/Marketing at DeltaCountyMemorialHospital  (970) 874-2291, pkalahar@deltahospital.org