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What You Should Know About Sarcoidosis

Yale Rosen/Flickr
Nodlular lung lesions are reported in up to 4% of cases of sarcoidosis.

The initial symptoms suggest just about anything, but they may be signs of an inflammatory disease many don’t know about. Sarcoidosis can affect multiple organs – most often lungs and lymph glands.

His close friend’s mother died of it, so Dr. Joseph Austin, Jr., has professional and personal reasons to raise awareness of the disease. The pulmonologist with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital shares more about sarcoidosis for KERA's consumer health series Vital Signs.

From Dr. Austin’s interview:

Who's at risk for sarcoidosis?

  • Mostly people 20 to 40 years old 
  • Women more than men 
  • African Americans far more than Caucasians

"We now know that family members or relatives can have the disease and that’s one of the risk factors that we look for in patients. We believe there is some genetic alteration of the trigger that leads to these inflammatory clusters white cells."
How serious is sarcoidosis?  based on your exposure to whatever the trigger is, which we don’t know, it can involve various organs. And depending on the number of areas of involvement, those organs do not work well anymore.

Treatment: There’s no cure because we don’t know what the trigger is that leads to this immune reaction. Generally we’ll treat the disease with a steroid, such as prednisone, but in most cases because patients have mild disease, we would just simply observe them to see how their disease progresses. I would say 30 to 40% of the cases will not progress. It will actually resolve in a year, year and a half.

Prevention: We don’t know what causes it. So because of that, it’s very difficult. But adequate diet, maintaining exercise and muscles, and a healthy state. Those are ways possibly to limit your chance of having it.

For more information:

Signs and Symptoms of Sarcoidosis 

Dermatologic Manifestations of Sarcoidosis 

Sarcoidosis Foundation of Texas

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.