Taking Charge of Your Health

Sarcoidosis is it’s an unusual disease where
the lymph nodes get inflamed in the chest and it can involve other organs. But it’s
a benign condition and a very good prognosis, very treatable. Because it’s a fairly uncommon
disease, we have established a dedicated clinic to take care of patients with sarcoidosis
at the university. Sarcoidosis occurs about 50 percent in the Caucasian population and
50 percent in the African American population. The peak age is around age 40. So it’s sort
of a young to middle age disease. Sarcoidosis again, in most people, is totally asymptomatic.
In those who are symptomatic it’s about a yearlong illness and then it goes away.
Now they may still have the swollen lymph nodes, but the sarcoid is inactive and they
never have another problem. It’s about five percent of sarcoidosis patients have chronic
disease with relapses, and flares and need chronic therapy. Probably the most common
symptom in sarcoidosis is cough and maybe some shortness of breath. And then usually
a chest x-ray is obtained and they see the swollen lymph nodes. Other symptoms would
be joint complaints and a skin rash, and people can be fairly ill with fever and night sweats
and weight loss, or they can present more chronically with cough and shortness of breath.
The treatment of sarcoidosis it’s interesting it runs a gamut about 75 percent of people
never know they had the disease. They get a chest x-ray for surgery or something else
and they see these big, swollen lymph nodes. So 75 percent don’t need treatment at all,
25 percent do have a symptom, do need treatment and the treatment is largely with corticosteroids,
which are very effective. But because sometimes treatment needs to go on for 6 to 12 months
or even longer, we have investigated other options to try and avoid the corticosteroids
side effects so things like Methotrexate and Imuran and even some of the drugs that are
used in rheumatoid arthritis like Remicade are used in sarcoidosis.

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