Joint Campaign to Raise Awareness About Sarcoidosis and COVID-19

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by David Melamed, PhD |

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Awareness campaign

The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is partnering with the American Lung Association for its sixth annual effort to raise awareness about sarcoidosis and provide resources for patients, caregivers, and clinicians during Sarcoidosis Awareness Month in April, and specifically to address concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarcoidosis is associated with an overactive immune system, which leads to elevated levels of inflammatory cells that cluster together, forming granulomas. These granulomas are a hallmark of sarcoidosis, and can contribute to decreased function of various organs.

While the disease can affect any organ in the body, 90% of patients experience symptoms affecting their lungs and respiratory system.

COVID-19 is a virus that affects the respiratory system, causing severe symptoms in some patients, including shortness of breath and pneumonia. Over time, the infection can develop into respiratory failure.

Patients who have chronic lung diseases or are immunocompromised are considered at high risk to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms if infected by the virus.

As sarcoidosis affects the immune system and also the lungs, the two organizations believe that raising awareness is now more important than ever, and have committed to updating sarcoidosis patients with evidence from ongoing scientific research into COVID-19, according to a press release.

They have also collaborated on a number of specialized resources aimed at raising general awareness about sarcoidosis. These resources are accessible on the websites for both the American Lung Association and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.

Throughout April, the two non-profits will offer remote educational opportunities for patients, caregivers, and clinicians who are interested in sarcoidosis education and awareness.

One such learning opportunity is an “Ask the Expert” Q&A session with a sarcoidosis specialist, Divya Patel, MD, of the University of Florida, who will be answering posted questions about sarcoidosis and COVID-19 from April 6 through April 9.

Webinars with other sarcoidosis experts are also scheduled. One, titled “Surviving Sarcoidosis in the Era of Social Distancing,” will be hosted by Joseph Barney, MD, of University of Alabama in Birmingham, and streamed live on April 15 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is also hosting World Sarcoidosis Day (#WorldSarcDay) on April 13, encouraging those involved to wear purple in support of patients fighting the disease. The foundation provides a printable sign for participants to use in photos that they can post on social media with the hashtags #WorldSarcDay and #StopSarcoidosis.

Lung HelpLine is another resource, made available by the American Lung Association, which offers patients one-on-one counseling with nurses, respiratory therapists, and counselors. It can be accessed via phone (1-800-LUNGUSA) or via online chat.