Sarcoidosis is a disease that leads to inflammation in the organs of your body.
Causes and Risk Factors of Sarcoidosis
When the immune system is functioning properly, inflammation occurs as immune cells attempt to fight an "attack" from a foreign substance (from germs like bacteria and viruses). In someone who has sarcoidosis, however, those cells instead cluster together and form lumps (granulomas) in the organs.
Anyone can develop sarcoidosis, but the following factors may increase your risk:
- Age and Sex Sarcoidosis often occurs between the ages of 20 and 40 years. Women are more likely to develop sarcoidosis.
- Genetics People of African descent and those of Scandinavian descent have a higher risk of sarcoidosis.
- Having a Close Family Member With Sarcoidosis Researchers haven't found a gene (or genes) linked to sarcoidosis, but studies have shown an elevated risk for those with a family history of the disease, according to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
Duration of Sarcoidosis
Complications of Sarcoidosis
- Blood and bone marrow problems
- Endocrine conditions, including hypercalcemia (too much calcium in your blood), diabetes insipidus (a disorder in which your kidneys pass excessive amounts of urine), and amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual period)
- Heart complications, such as arrhythmia, heart failure, cardiac arrest, and cardiomyopathy
- Kidney problems, such as kidney stones or kidney failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Lung diseases, such as pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis (scarring on the lungs)
- Nervous system problems, including brain tumors, meningitis, hydrocephalus, and nerve pain
Black Americans and Sarcoidosis
Resources We Love
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
The NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, offers comprehensive, up-to-date info about sarcoidosis, from symptoms, treatment options, and managing the disease, to the latest research and clinical trials.
Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research
This nonprofit seeks to find a cure for sarcoidosis and to improve patient care. The educational materials on their website can help you gain a better understanding of what sarcoidosis is, and FSR provides a number of helpful resources for living with this disease, from finding specialists, clinical trials, and support groups, to a podcast for individuals affected by sarcoidosis.
American Lung Association (ALA)
In addition to providing a wealth of medical info about sarcoidosis, the ALA can help you find the support you may need to manage the disease. Their Lung Helpline (800-LUNGUSA) is open 7 days a week and staffed by nurses, therapists, and treatment specialists.
Additional reporting by Deborah Shapiro.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Sarcoidosis: Overview. Mayo Clinic. January 30, 2019.
- Prognosis. Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
- Sarcoidosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Sarcoidosis Overview. Cleveland Clinic. February 4, 2015.
- Learn About Sarcoidosis. American Lung Association. October 24, 2020.
- Causes and Risk Factors. Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
- Sarcoidosis: Diagnosis and Treatment. Mayo Clinic. January 30, 2019.
- Sarcoidosis Overview: Diagnosis and Tests. Cleveland Clinic. February 4, 2015.
- Sarcoidosis Overview: Management and Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. February 4, 2015.
- Treatment Options. Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
- Sarcoidosis. FamilyDoctor.org. July 11, 2018.
- Arkema E, Cozier Y. Epidemiology of Sarcoidosis: Current Findings and Future Directions. Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease. November 2018.
- Hena KM. Sarcoidosis Epidemiology: Race Matters. Frontiers in Immunology. September 15, 2020.