Sarcoidosis (pronounced SAR-COY-DOE-SIS) is an inflammatory disease characterized by the formation of granulomas, tiny clumps of inflammatory cells, in one or more organs of the body. When the immune system goes into overdrive and too many of these clumps form, they can interfere with an organ’s structure and function. When left unchecked, chronic inflammation can lead to fibrosis, which is permanent thickening or scarring of organ tissue.
This disorder can affect almost any organ in the body, including the heart, skin, liver, kidneys, brain, sinuses, eyes, muscles, bones, and other areas. Sarcoidosis most commonly targets the lungs and the lymph nodes, which are an important part of the immune system. When it affects the lungs, it is called pulmonary sarcoidosis. Ninety percent or more of people diagnosed with the disease have lung involvement.
Disease presentation and severity varies widely among patients.
Signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis vary widely depending on the organs affected. While many people who have sarcoidosis have very few or no signs of the disease, others suffer debilitating effects that can interfere with daily life. It is important to discuss all symptoms with your physician so they can arrive at the correct diagnosis and develop the best treatment plan for your unique case. When patients are first diagnosed, they often present with a classic set of signs described as Lofgren’s Syndrome:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Swollen and painful joints, arthritis
- Erythema nodosum, raised, red, and tender bumps to form on the skin, usually on the front of the legs. Nearby joints are often swollen and painful
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Overall feeling of sickness
- Irregular heart beat
- Swollen legs
- Visual problems
- Weakness or numbness of an arm, leg, or part of the face
- Discoloration of the nose, cheeks, lips, and ears
- Scaly-appearing skin rash
- Joint pain
- Muscle swelling and soreness
- Burning, itching, tearing, or pain in the eyes
- Red eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision