What Is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a disease that causes inflammation of the body tissues. The disease can affect any organ in the body. It affects the lungs most often, which is why it's called pulmonary sarcoidosis. The inflammation may affect the air sacs, or alveoli, and small airways, or bronchioles, in the lungs. It may also affect nearby lymph nodes. The changes may cause the lung tissue to become stiff and make it difficult to breathe. In severe cases, it can cause scarring of the lungs, or pulmonary fibrosis.
What Causes Sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. It is believed to be a problem with the body’s immune system.
What Are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Sarcoidosis?
The symptoms can include:
Shortness of breath
Mild chest pain
Feeling tired and weak
How Is Pulmonary Sarcoidosis Diagnosed?
Your health care provider will ask you a lot of questions about your medical history and current symptoms. He or she will examine you. You will have some common diagnostic tests, including a chest X-ray and blood tests. Other tests may include:
Pulmonary function tests. These are tests that measure how well your lungs work. A common test is spirometry.
Biopsy. A biopsy may be needed to make the diagnosis. A biopsy is a procedure to gather small samples of tissue for testing. It is done during a procedure called a bronchoscopy. A bronchoscope is a special tool that allows your health care provider to see inside your lungs. You are given medication before the test to help you relax. The bronchoscope is put in the mouth and moved down the throat into your windpipe, or trachea, and then into the lungs. A small sample of tissue is taken to be examined under a microscope.
How Is Pulmonary Sarcoidosis Treated?
Most people don’t need treatment. The disease may not cause symptoms. And it may go away on its own. Patients may get treatment to help relieve symptoms caused by inflammation and help prevent damage. If medication is prescribed, it is usually a corticosteroid.
Make sure you follow all of your health care provider's instructions. Make sure you go to all follow-up appointments. If your symptoms are getting worse, call your health care provider.
If you smoke, think about quitting. This is not only important for you lung condition, but also for your overall health. There are many ways to make quitting easier, including local and Internet programs, as well as medications.