Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease of the granulomatous family, i.e. whose manifestation is the presence of multiple granulomas, inflammatory small tumors. Sarcoidosis has no known origin and is also called Besnier-Boeck-Schaumann disease. It frequently affects the respiratory organs, but can affect all organs. In the majority of patients, the disease is not serious and heals itself after a few months. In the most severe cases, medical care is essential because sarcoidosis can cause respiratory diseases that spread to lymph nodes, bones, joints and other organs. This disease affects middle-aged people, usually between the ages of 20 and 50. The evolution of sarcoidosis is due to a significant activation of immune cells in the body, responsible for the development of these inflammatory granulomas affecting preferentially the lungs and lymph nodes.
Forms with very few symptoms are common, and the disease is sometimes found only during a non-related examination. The disease can occur in connection with:
- tiredness, loss of appetite, and sometimes weight loss;
- a slight fever;
- coughing or difficulty breathing during exercise;
- Increase in the size of the lymph nodes;
- joint pain, mainly on the hips, knees, elbows;
- an eye infection called uveitis ...
Because of the possibility of spreading to all organs, sarcoidosis can be very different from one individual to another.
Diagnosing sarcoidosis is not simple. In fact, the disease is mostly asymptomatic or with very few specific signs. The doctor may, however, after a clinical examination, prescribe one or more additional tests that will lead to the diagnosis of sarcoidosis. Among these tests, there is:
- a chest X-ray if it is the most common pulmonary form in question;
- a scan, sometimes;
- an analysis of the liquid from a bronchoalveolar lavage, performed during endoscopy and allowing for the direct visualization of the bronchi and levies;
- a biopsy or removal of a granuloma in an organ or gland, which will highlight typical granuloma formation.
Sarcoidosis is a disease that has the unique trait of healing spontaneously. This is true for about 90% of cases. However, in cases where an impact on respiratory capacity or on organs such as the eye or the heart is present, treatment with corticosteroids is often prescribed for several months in decreasing doses.