How Sarcoidosis affects us in different parts of the body SYMPTOMS Some organs are affected more often than others. Sarcoidosis occurs most often in the lungs.Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12, 2009View Source
How Sarcoidosis affects us in different parts of the body
Some organs are affected more often than others. Sarcoidosis occurs most often in the lungs. It also commonly affects the skin, eyes, lymph nodes and liver. Less commonly, it affects the spleen, brain, nerves, heart, tear glands, salivary glands, sinuses, bones and joints. Rarely, it affects other organs, such as the kidneys, breasts and male and female reproductive organs.
Lungs: Most often, the disease will affect the lungs. It may affect the lung tissue itself and lymph nodes in the chest. Its effects can range from very mild (without symptoms) to severe. Symptoms caused by the disease occurring in the lungs include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and, sometimes, chest pain.
Skin: Sarcoidosis of the skin can result in rashes or various types of skin lesions. One type of lesion is called erythema nodosum. These are painful bumps that can be warm, tender and red or can be painful, purple-to-red and slightly raised. The bumps appear on the skin, often on the ankles and shins. These lesions may occur along with fever and swollen ankles. Other lesions may appear as bumps, ulcers, or, rarely, flat areas of discolored skin. They occur most commonly near the nose, eyes, back, arms, legs and scalp. Typically, they are not painful but sometimes itch. Another lesion is named lupus pernio. This type causes disfiguring lesions on the face.
Eyes: Common symptoms of sarcoidosis in the eyes include: burning, itching, tearing, pain, red eye, sensitivity to light (photophobia), dryness, seeing black spots (called floaters) and blurred vision. A condition called uveitis, which is inflammation of the membranes (uvea) of the eye, can result in many of these symptoms. Rarely, permanent damage results, and blindness may occur. As a precaution, all those diagnosed with sarcoidosis should have their eyes tested.
Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes (or glands) are part of the body's immune system. Sarcoidosis can cause enlarged lymph nodes - which appear as swollen lumps. Lymph nodes affected by sarcoidosis are most often in the neck, but those under the chin, in the arm pits and in the groin can also be affected.
Liver: Sarcoidosis granulomas can cause the liver to enlarge. Symptoms of the disease in the liver include fever, fatigue, itching and pain in the upper right part of the abdomen (under the ribs).
Salivary Glands: Sarcoidosis in the salivary glands can cause the mouth and throat to be excessively dry. When sarcoidosis affects these glands, it causes them to swell making the cheeks look enlarged.
Blood, Urinary Tract and Kidneys: Sarcoidosis can cause too much calcium in the blood and urine. This results from an enzyme made by the granulomas. Excess calcium in the urine can lead to painful kidney stones.
Nervous System: The nervous system includes the brain and all the body's nerves, and it may be affected by sarcoidosis. The disease can cause a mass of granulomas in the brain or meninges, which are the membranes that cover the brain. The disease also can affect one or more nerves anywhere in the body. Most often, it affects the nerves of the face. Symptoms of the disease in the nervous system vary. If there is a mass in the brain, symptoms can include headaches, visual problems and weakness or numbness of an arm or leg. When sarcoidosis affects a facial nerve, it can cause one side of the face to droop. This may be the first symptom that someone has sarcoidosis. When sarcoidosis affects the spinal cord, it can cause weakness or even paralysis of the arms or legs. When multiple nerves in more than one place are affected, the disease can cause weakness, pain, or a "stinging needles" sensation in those areas.
Heart: Sarcoidosis can cause the heart to pump weakly. This results in such symptoms as shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, wheezing and coughing. Sarcoidosis also can affect the heart's electrical pacing and transmission system, which tells the heart when to beat. This can make the heart beat too fast or very slowly or skip beats. Symptoms of an electrical-system problem include palpitations (a fluttering sensation of rapid heartbeats), skipped beats and, rarely, fluid buildup in the lungs or sudden loss of consciousness.
Muscles, Joints and Bones: Musculoskeletal sarcoidosis (musculo=muscles, joints and bones=skeletal) can result in a number of symptoms. In muscles, sarcoidosis may cause pain, a mass in the muscle or muscle weakness. Joint stiffness and swelling can occur in the knees, ankles, elbows, wrists feet, and hands. The disease can also cause a granulomatous form of arthritis. Sarcoidosis can cause painless holes in bones and painless swelling, most commonly in the fingers. Sarcoidosis also can affect the bone marrow (soft, organic material that fills bone cavities), which produces blood cells. This can result in anemia, in which there are too few red blood cells, or a lowered number of white blood cells. Red blood cells are needed to deliver oxygen to the body; white blood cells help fight infections.
Sinuses: These are cavities in the skull, and they can be affected by sarcoidosis and result in frequent bouts of sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus cavities).
Spleen: When sarcoidosis affects the spleen, it can reduce the numbers of red or white blood cells, or platelets (important in helping blood to clot). The spleen also may enlarge causing pain in the upper left part of the abdomen (under the ribs).
Stomach: granulomas can cause problems in the gastrointestinal track as well as the colon.
For more information, please contact JSOF - 832 248 6621
Sarcoidosis Support Group Meeting - April 25, 2009 - 3pm
West Houston Medical Center
12121 Richmond Ave, Rm 201
Houston, TX 77072
Emma CarrollExecutive Director832-248-6621Empowering the Community through Sarcoidosis Education and Outreach