Sarcoidosis: Understanding the Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Sarcoidosis: Understanding the Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease of the connective tissue, the cause of which is still not fully understood. Sarcoidosis affects the entire body but is particularly common in the lymph nodes and lungs. Also known as Boeck’s disease, sarcoidosis is a relatively rare disease.

Sarcoidosis (Boeck’s disease)

The disease sarcoidosis occurs worldwide. Sarcoidosis is particularly common in Sweden and Iceland. The exact numbers of this disease in Germany are unknown; estimates are at 40,000 sufferers. Since sarcoidosis does not always cause symptoms, experts believe the incidence is even higher.

Nevertheless, sarcoid is a rare disease. Other names are – after the first to describe this clinical picture – Boeck’s disease and Schaumann-Besnier’s disease, for the acute form of the disease, as Löfgren’s syndrome.


Lungs, lymph nodes and liver are often affected.

Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease, meaning it affects the whole body. Characteristics are granulomas – small nodules of connective tissue as a sign of inflammatory reactions. In principle, these can occur in any organ tissue but are almost always found at least in the lymph nodes and the lungs. The liver is also affected relatively frequently; sarcoidosis occurs less frequently in the eyes, skin or bones.

The type and extent of the sarcoidosis symptoms depend on the region affected, and general symptoms are not always present. The probability of developing the disease is exceptionally high, between 20 and 40.

Sarcoidosis: course of the forms

In principle, a distinction is made between an acute and a chronic form. The former begins suddenly but usually resolves (80-90%) after a few weeks to months without further impairment. Chronic sarcoidosis develops slowly and primarily unnoticed at first. Symptoms that lead those affected to see a doctor are often eye problems or changes to the skin. Chronic sarcoidosis comes to a standstill in about half of the cases; in the other sufferers, it continues progressing.


Sarcoidosis: causes unknown

The causes of sarcoid are still unclear. In principle, it is assumed that a pathological defence reaction of the immune system leads to numerous connective tissue nodules (granulomas). However, the exact trigger for this is unknown. Among other things, substances absorbed through the lungs and an infection similar to tuberculosis are discussed. A hereditary component is also suspected, which at least increases the susceptibility to sarcoidosis.

Although the nodules are benign, their number and location can lead to impairment of organ function. As a result, the granulomas can completely regress, but they can also scar to functionless tissue – however, it is not possible to make any predictions about the course. The drug interferon is also discussed as a possible trigger of sarcoid, which is why it should not be used in known sarcoid.

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