What is sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that results in granulomas, which are small, rounded growths consisting of blood vessels, cells and connective tissue.
- These granulomas invade different parts of the body, including the skin, bones, joints, and lungs.
- Sarcoidosis varies widely from person to person. Some children may experience the disease for several months, while others are affected for years — even a lifetime.
- Between 30 to 70 percent of patients do not require therapy for the condition.
Sarcoidosis | Symptoms & Causes
What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?
Signs of sarcoidosis may vary. Your child may have mild or no symptoms, or she may experience:
- red patches on the skin
- dry cough, difficulty breathing, or other lung problems
- problems with vision
- abdominal pain
- joint pain, swelling, and inflammation
- muscle soreness
- weight loss
Symptoms of sarcoidosis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
What causes sarcoidosis?
The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not known.
- As with many inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, it often seems to be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection.
- In some cases, sarcoidosis is considered an autoimmune disorder. This means that your child's immune system begins to attack her body's healthy tissues.
- Although sarcoidosis is not a contagious disease, in some cases it tends to occur within families.
Sarcoidosis | Diagnosis & Treatment
How is sarcoidosis diagnosed?
Since sarcoidosis can affect so many different parts of the body, and may have such varying symptoms in different people, diagnosing sarcoidosis is typically difficult and delayed.
The first step is to consider sarcoidosis as a possible cause of difficult-to-explain symptoms. Your child's physician will obtain a complete prenatal and birth history, and ask if your child has had any recent colds or other infections. The diagnosis is usually confirmed through a combination of:
- reported symptoms
- laboratory tests: certain blood tests, for example, may help rule out other conditions that can mimic sarcoidosis
- x-rays: a diagnostic test which uses electromagnetic energy to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organ on film
- vision test/eye examination
- biopsy: a small sample of areas thought to be affected by granulomas may be taken for microscopic examination to help confirm the presence of sarcoidosis
How is sarcoidosis treated?
Components of your child's treatment may include:
- corticosteroid medications: taken orally, these medications reduce inflammation and help control severe symptoms
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): taken orally, these medications also help control inflammation and symptoms without some of the side effects of other steroids
- other medications to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain, and to slow the progress of the disease
- immunosuppressive medications to suppress the hyperactivity of the immune system that leads to autoimmunity
- physical therapy to improve and maintain muscle and joint function
- occupational therapy to improve and maintain your child's ability to perform activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and using a computer
- patient and family education to help you understand your child's condition and participate in her care and healing
- psychosocial support for the emotional, mental, and social health of both child and family. Support may include one-on-one counseling, support groups, or referral to local and national resources.
How we care for sarcoidosis
The Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center for Pediatric Autoimmune Disease provides comprehensive and coordinated care and support for patients and families facing the complexities of sarcoidosis and other challenging autoimmune diseases. Clinical care includes outpatient and inpatient treatment, a wide range of rehabilitative therapies, pain management, outreach to complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage, and developmental and psychosocial support.
What is the long-term outlook for a child with sarcoidosis?
Like the symptoms and treatments, the long-term outlook for sarcoidosis is very different for each person. Talk to your child's physician for more information about your unique situation.
Sarcoidosis | Research & Clinical Trials
While the cells involved in forming granulomas are known, the events that trigger their formation in sarcoidosis are not. These triggering and perpetuating factors are being investigated. Ultimately, the hope is that this will allow sarcoidosis to be prevented or treated more effectively in the future.