Sarcoidosis is a multi-system disorder, which can affect one or more organs in the body. It most commonly affects the lungs and lymph glands. Symptoms of sarcoidosis can vary greatly from mild to severe. The symptoms a person develops depend on the organ/organs that are affected. The disease may start suddenly and then disappear or start gradually i.e. can come and go for a lifetime. Some people may have no outward symptoms at all even though their organs are affected.
Symptoms of sarcoidosis
General: Many patients (more than 30%) experience non-specific symptoms such as fever, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats and an overall feeling of malaise (or ill health).
Lungs: This is the most commonly affected organ (affected in more than 90% of patients). Some symptoms that occur when the lungs are involved include persistent cough (cough that does not go away), shortness of breath (increased with exertion) and chest pain.
Lymph Nodes: Lymph Nodes are also often affected in sarcoidosis (affected in about 90% of patients). Increase in size of lymph glands in the chest and around the lungs can cause cough and shortness of breath. In some cases, the spleen (a part of the lymphatic system) can also be affected.
Liver: Granuloma develops in about 50% to 80% of patients with sarcoidosis in their liver. In most cases, however, it does not cause any symptoms and therefore, does not require treatment.
Heart: Experts believe that sarcoidosis affects heart in about 10 to 25% of people with sarcoidosis. It can cause changes in the heart beat such as the heart may beat weakly resulting in shortness of breath and swelling in the legs or it may beat very fast or irregularly resulting in palpitations.
Brain & Nervous System: About 5% to 13% of patients develop neurological symptoms such as headaches, visual problems, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg and facial palsy.
Skin: Skin is also commonly affected (it is affected in about 25% of patients). People with skin problems may develop painful or red, raised bumps on the legs or arms (called erythema nodosum), discoloration of the nose, cheeks, lips and ears (called lupus pernio) or small brownish and painless skin patches.
Bones, Joints & Muscles: Joint pain is affected in about 30% of the patients. Symptoms of joint involvement include a mass in the muscle, muscle weakness or pain in ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, hands and feet.
Eyes: Any part of the eye can get affected by sarcoidosis. Ocular involvement occurs in about 25% of patients. Some common symptoms that occur when the eye is involved include burning, itching, tearing, pain, red eye, sensitivity to light (photophobia), dryness, seeing black spots (called floaters) and blurred vision.
Sinuses, Nasal Muscosa (lining) & Larynx: If these are involved, the person may have hoarseness of voice or shortness of breath.
Other Organs: Other organs that are rarely affected include gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organs, salivary glands and the kidneys.
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