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April is Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, we’re showing our support by raising awareness of this autoimmune condition.

Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease; an autoimmune disease is an illness which results from the immune system attacking the body.  In the case of sarcoidosis, the lungs and skin are most commonly affected.  In the case of sarcoidosis it is thought that the immune system has gone into “overdrive” and is attacking the skin and organs of the body. As a result of the immune system attacking the body in this way, granulomas develop in the organs [1].  Granulomas are clumps of white blood cells [2].

Sarcoidosis affects each person differently and the symptoms a patient experiences will be dependent upon which organs are affected.  As sacroidosis most commonly affects the lungs and skin, symptom typically include red bumps on the skin which are tender and a persistent cough [1].

Sarcoidosis has conditions which are similar to other conditions which can make diagnosis quite difficult.  In order for a sarcoidosis diagnosis to be confirmed, doctors must eliminate other possible conditions.  Often, sarcoidosis is only discovered when an x-ray of the chest reveals the characteristic swollen lymph nodes or shadowing in the lungs [3].

It is estimated that Sarcoidosis affects about 1 in every 10,000 people in the UK.  While there is no cure for sarcoidosis, most people develop symptoms suddenly and they usually disappear within a few months or years without returning; this is called acute sarcoidosis [1].

A clinical trial at Northwestern University, which is headed by Dr. Richard Burt, aims to evaluate if an autologous stem cell transplant will produce a normal immune system that will no longer attack the body in sarcoidosis patients.  The trial is expected to end in 2018 and could offer hope to sarcoidosis patients, particularly whose sarcoidosis gradually deteriorates rather than improves.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sarcoidosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[2] https://chronicillnessrecovery.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=189

[3] http://www.breathingmatters.co.uk/sarcoidosis/

 

 

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