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Get to Know Sarcoidosis: A Complex, Misunderstood Disease

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Get to Know Sarcoidosis: A Complex, Misunderstood Disease

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April 22, 2016

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – Sarcoidosis may be a new term for you, but for the more than 200,000 people in the U.S. who are living with the condition, it is a frustrating struggle.

The condition has been acknowledged for more than 150 years and has impacted several well-known people, including Bernie Mac, Reggie White, Evander Holyfield, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Daisy Fuentes. Yet little is known about sarcoidosis, including the cause, typical symptoms or disease progression.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease where the immune system goes into overdrive, causing cells to group together into clumps called granulomas. When too many granulomas form on an organ, they can interfere with its function. Sarcoidosis can impact any organ; however, the lungs and lymph nodes are affected in more than 90 percent of cases. Although anyone can develop the disease, it is most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40, and occurs more frequently among African-Americans and people of Scandinavian descent.

Since each case of sarcoidosis is unique, the CHEST Foundation of the American College of Chest Physicians and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) have teamed up to create Sarcoidosis: Seek Answers. Inspire Results., a campaign that encourages people living with sarcoidosis to take a proactive role in their treatment and spread awareness to those who might be at risk.

“Diagnosing sarcoidosis can be a long and frustrating process for patients,” said Doreen J. Addrizzo-Harris, MD, FCCP and trustee of the CHEST Foundation board. “Symptoms of sarcoidosis can often mimic those of other diseases, such as cancer or arthritis, resulting in misdiagnosis or unnecessary treatment. If symptoms are present, it is important to weigh the possibility of sarcoidosis, and the educational resources available at www.chestnet.org/sarcoid can help.”

Common symptoms include:

1. Fever, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats and an overall feeling of ill health.

2. A persistent cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.

3. Enlarged lymph nodes — most often located in the neck, but they can also be under the chin, in the armpits or the groin area.

With good medical care, most cases of sarcoidosis are not severe and do not cause lasting damage to the body. However, 30 to 40 percent of cases have a persistent condition that may require treatment to control symptoms.

For more information and to download sarcoidosis resources — including patient and provider toolkits — please visit www.chestnet.org/sarcoid or www.stopsarcoidosis.org/awareness.

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