Pulmonary Sarcoidosis

No one knows for sure what causes it, but the good news is that we do have successful methods for treating pulmonary sarcoidosis.

Let’s get it cleared up.

An Unknown Cause

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease, and the cause is currently unknown. Almost 90 percent of the cases of sarcoidosis are found in the lungs and lymph nodes, but it can occur in almost any organ. It can occur in any race, at any age and at in both sexes, but is more common in people of African-American, Scandinavian, or Asian origin between ages 20 and 40.

A Known Treatment

Sarcoidosis causes small lumps, or granulomas, which generally heal and disappear on their own. However, for those granulomas that do not heal, the tissue can remain inflamed and become scarred, or fibrotic. Pulmonary sarcoidosis can develop into pulmonary fibrosis, which distorts the structure of the lungs and can interfere with breathing.

At INTEGRIS Health, we’re dedicated to helping you breathe easier, with a multi-discipline team that will do everything in their power to treat your breathing problem and fight diseases of your lungs and airways. Chances are, with the right medications and teamwork, we can treat your sarcoidosis very effectively.

Understanding Pulmonary Sarcoidosis

Most patients with sarcoidosis do not have symptoms and probably are unaware they have the disease. The following are the most common symptoms. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough that will not go away
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain

Sarcoidosis can also cause symptoms not directly related to the lungs, such as:

  • Skin rashes on face, arms, or shins
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your doctor might perform the following diagnostic procedures to check for sarcoidosis:

  • Chest X-Ray: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Chest CT Scan: A test that takes images of the structures in your chest to see how the lungs are functioning.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests: Diagnostic tests that help to measure the lungs' ability to move air into and out of the lungs effectively. The tests are usually performed with special machines into which the person must breathe.
  • Blood Tests: To analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.
  • Bronchoscopy: A long, thin, flexible tube with a light at the end is put into the lung. This allows the doctor to look at the tissue lining the air passageways. Lung tissue samples (biopsies) and lung washings (lavage) that contain lung cells from the lungs can be done through the bronchoscope.
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage: A procedure in which a sterile saline solution is put into the lungs through a bronchoscope (a flexible tube for examining the bronchi) and then suctioned out. The bronchoalveolar lavage may be performed to diagnose lung conditions and infections.
  • Biopsy: A test in which a small piece of abnormal tissue is taken out and checked under a microscope.

Sarcoidosis is usually diagnosed by elimination, meaning other lung disorders that have similar symptoms are progressively eliminated, leading to a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.

Specific treatment for pulmonary sarcoidosis will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration.

Different treatments work better for different people. Sometimes more than one treatment is used, and in many cases, no treatment is needed. Most medications used to treat sarcoidosis suppress the immune system.

Treatment may include the use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone. Other medicines, such as methotrexate, may be used if corticosteroids do not work, you wish to avoid side effects of corticosteroids, or your sarcoidosis gets worse.

Our pulmonary rehabilitation programs at INTEGRIS help you by creating individualized plans and education, so you can do more things you enjoy. Support services include:

  • Stress management, relaxation exercises and emotional support
  • Medication management
  • Exercises for physical conditioning programs
  • Assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
  • Lung medication
  • Infection control
  • Oxygen and equipment

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