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What is Sarcoidosis?

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Quick Answer

Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation of the body's organs, according to WebMD. The disease mostly affects the lungs and lymph nodes, and while there is no cure as of 2015, doctors can treat the symptoms if necessary.

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Full Answer

In people with sarcoidosis, the inflammation that occurs as part of the immune system's effort to defend the body from harmful substances does not go away, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Some immune system cells remain at the site of inflammation and form lumps called granulomas. Symptoms arise when many granulomas form in an organ and affect how that organ functions.

Common symptoms of sarcoidosis that appear in the beginning stages of the disease include dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, notes WebMD. Other symptoms of sarcoidosis include red patches or bumps on the skin, blurred vision, swollen joints, hoarse voice and enlarged lymph glands. Doctors use chest X-rays, CT scans, breathing tests and bronochoscopies to diagnose the condition. Sarcoidosis is rarely fatal and is chronic in only a minority of cases.

Not everyone who has sarcoidosis needs treatment, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In most patients, the condition stops being active within three years of diagnosis and causes little to no long-term issues. However, sarcoidosis leads to organ damage in a third of patients with the disease, and those who have lung scarring, lupus pernio, and heart or brain complications have a greater risk of developing chronic sarcoidosis. Better treatment options for those with sarcoidosis are still being researched.

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