(RxWiki News) When you think of the most-well known medical conditions in the world, a disorder called sarcoidosis probably does not come to mind. That fact is one reason why the month of April is recognized as National Sarcoidosis Awareness month.
The National Sarcoidosis Society (NSS) was established by sarcoidosis survivor Glenda Fulton due, in part, to the lack of information, awareness and patient education available about the disease.
"Discuss any unusual symptoms with a doctor."
With sarcoidosis, small areas of inflammatory cells called granulomas develop in the body, often in the lungs, eyes, lymph nodes, skin or liver.
The cause for the disease is unknown, but doctors suspect that it may be related to an immune system response.
The Mayo Clinic reports that sarcoidosis is more common in African Americans than Caucasian Americans, and the disease “may be more severe and may be more likely to recur and cause lung problems in African-Americans.”
According to the NSS, sarcoidosis often goes away on its own with few or no symptoms, but in severe cases it can spread to the skin, lungs or other organs. In serious cases, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis and other lung problems.
Sarcoidosis commonly develops in people aged 20 to 40 years of age, and women have a slightly higher risk.
According to MedlinePlus, a website provided by the US National Library of Medicine, “A person with a close blood relative who has sarcoidosis is nearly five times as likely to develop the condition.”
The NSS reports that when diagnosing the condition, doctors must first rule out other disorders that may appear with similar symptoms.
According to MedlinePlus, common symptoms may include fatigue, achiness, chest pain and dry cough, but this varies depending on what part of the body is affected.
However, the Mayo Clinic reports that most people with sarcoidosis do eventually experience problems with their lungs. Other lung-related symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Skin-specific symptoms can include a change in skin color, the development of lesions around the cheeks or nose and a tender, bumpy, red-colored rash around the ankles or shins.
The Mayo Clinic estimates around 25 percent of sarcoidosis patients will cope with skin problems.
Finally, eye symptoms like sensitivity to light, blurry vision or pain in the eyes may develop. The Mayo Clinic stresses the importance of eye exams, as sarcoidosis can affect the eyes without any noticeable symptoms.
Though in some cases sarcoidosis does not lead to major health problems or permanent damage, it is important for patients to be under the care of a doctor, and for people who experience possible symptoms to visit a doctor. Some cases will need treatment to prevent serious complications.