Dr. Thaddeus Bell provides information on sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory condition that reportedly contributed to the death of Bernie Mac,
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Thaddeus Bell: Sarcoidosis is a very interesting disease. It is an inflammatory condition of certain body parts and it is characterized by having lumps in these body parts. The body parts that sarcoidosis affects primarily, well first of all it can affect any part of the body. But the body of that's primarily affected, is the lungs. I have a patient right now that I'm following with sarcoidosis and her primary problem is arthritis, so it can affect the bones and the muscles and the lungs. She has problems that are similar to asthma. So the answer to your question it is that, it is an inflammatory condition of certain body parts, is characterized by having lumps, in medical terms we refer to it is granulomas in these body parts, that cause patients to feel very, very badly. The common signs and symptoms of Sarcoidosis, well lets start off with the lungs. Shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, fever. If it affects the eye, which it can very, very commonly do, it can cause blindness. In fact I was talking to one of colleagues recently and she told be she was an ophthalmologist and she told me that at least in her practice, diabetes and sarcoidosis were two of the most common causes of blindness that she sees in her practice. And often times patients are not aware of this. If you develop sarcoidosis of one of the areas that I mentioned ,then you should on an annual basis be checked to make sure it has not affected your sight. The cause of sarcoidosis at this point in time is not known. We are not really sure what causes it. It is one of those autoimmune diseases that we do not completely understand, so the jury is still out as to what causes it. We do now however that African-Americans and some other minorities are more predisposed to having it. We do not understand why that is the case. And I may also point out that sarcoidosis is usually found between ages of 20 and 40. However it can be found outside of those age ranges, but usually between 20 and 40. So if you have a constellation of symptoms that include fatigue, fever, inflammation, weight loss, then you should definitely be seen by your health care professional and sarcoidosis should be one of the differential diagnosis that he needs to consider. Sarcoidosis for the most part, often times no treatment is needed. Because it can be very mild or it can be a very difficult. If it is treated, it can be treated with Prednisone, okay. When you have it on the eye, often times then there is inflammation of the eye, the doctor will give you Prednisone and so you can take it by mouth. Often times it can be treated with non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs if it involves of the joints or the muscles. Rest is often times a part of the treatment protocol. But steroids is the big treatment protocol that we use to treat Sarcoidosis. The prognosis is variable of course if you have the mild kind and you don't have the episodes very, very frequently, then your prognosis is good. Sarcoidosis rarely kills people. It can but that doesn't usually happen. And usually the patient is very, very much aware of the symptoms and if they come in and be treated as soon as they experience symptoms, they can do quite well. The way we make the diagnosis of sarcoidosis is several fold. If it is sarcoidosis of the lung then the chest x-ray is the way that the diagnosis can be made. A radiologist, a physician who is accustomed to looking at x-rays can look at the pattern of the disease, these lumps in the lungs and they can tell that, that pattern is consistent with sarcoidosis. But often times that pattern does not exist, so we will have to do a biopsy of the lung, of the tissue that's being affected. And then of course there is a blood test that can be done. Sometimes we have to use all of those lab tests together to help us make a diagnosis. But it is a fairly common disease and in my practice I can think of at least four patients that I'm following, men and women, by the way it's most common in wome
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