National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month

Sunday, April 12, 2015

We often hear the phrase "April showers brings May flowers," but there is much more to April to be observed.

April is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month. Sarcoidosis (sar-koy-DO-sis) is a disease of unknown cause that leads to inflammation (National Institute of Health, 2015).

Sarcoidosis may affect any organ in the body. Although it is more than likely to affect the lungs, skin and/or lymph nodes. Typically, your immune system fights off harmful substances. For example, it sends special cells to protect organs that are in danger (NIH, 2015).

Cells released then gather other cells to destroy the harmful substance. While this is taking place inflammation occurs. However once the harming substance clears, both the cells and inflammation go away. In sarcoidosis patients, the inflammation does not leave. At this point the immune system cells cluster to develop lumps called granulomas. Common symptoms of sarcoidosis are cough, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Other symptoms include:

* Tender reddish bumps or patches on the skin.

* Red and teary eyes or blurred vision.

* Swollen and painful joints.

* Enlarged and tender lymph glands in the neck, armpits, and groin

* Hoarse voice.

* Pain in the hands, feet, or other bony areas due to the formation of cysts (an abnormal sac-like growth) in bones.

* Kidney stone formation.

* Enlarged liver.

* Development of abnormal or missed heart beats (arrhythmias), inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericarditis), or heart failure.

* Nervous system effects, including hearing loss, meningitis, seizures, or psychiatric disorders (for example, dementia, depression, psychosis).

Sarcoidosis is classified as an autoimmune disease associated with an abnormal immune response. Researchers are currently studying how sarcoidosis spreads from one part of the body to another. As of today, there is no single way to diagnose sarcoidosis.

"The main tools doctor use to diagnose sarcoidosis is chest X-rays to look for cloudiness (pulmonary infiltrates) or swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy). CT scan to provide an even more detailed look at the lungs and lymph nodes than provided by a chest X-ray. Pulmonary function (breathing) tests to measure how well the lungs are working. Bronchoscopy tests to inspect the bronchial tubes and to extract a biopsy (a small tissue sample) to look for granulomas and to obtain material to rule out infection. Bronchoscopy involves passing a small tube (bronchoscope) down the trachea (windpipe) and into the bronchial tubes (airways) of the lungs." (National Institution of Health, 2015).

There is no cure for the disease. However, Sarcoidosis is known to get better on its own over time. Treatment is broken down into two categories: drug treatment and maintenance of good health. Drug treatments help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation of the affected area. Maintain of good health include:

* Getting regular check-ups with your health care provider.

* Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

* Drinking enough fluids every day.

* Getting six to eight hours of sleep each night.

* Exercising regularly and managing your weight.

* Quitting smoking.

Visit our homepage at or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee.

Upcoming Events

April 15 -- State Fair 4-H Exhibit Hall worker applications due.

April 16 -- Electric workshop for 4-H'ers, Extension Office, 6-8 p.m.

April 20 -- Area V Health and Human Science Leader Lesson registration due.

April 23 -- Exploring 4-H meeting, fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.

April 24 -- Performing Arts Area V 4-H contest, Vermillion County.

April 27 -- Fair Board meeting, fairgrounds, 7:30 p.m.

April 28 -- Indiana Extension Homemaker Association Spring Dessert, fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.

April 29 -- Kim Miller retirement reception, Extension Office, 4:30-7 p.m.

May 1 -- Area V Health and Human Science Leader Lesson, Vigo County, 10 a.m.

May 15 -- Livestock 4-H enrollment deadline (except poultry)

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