Sarcoidosis is an immune system condition in which the body overreacts to an allergen or an infection and starts to mistakenly attack its own tissues. As a result, small patches of inflammation called granulomas build up over time in body organs.
Although sarcoidosis usually develops in the lungs and lymph nodes, any organ in the body can be affected. This causes the condition to have a wide range of symptoms, depending on the organs it affects and the length of time it affects them.
In most cases, however, the condition is temporary and will disappear on its own, but sometimes it can become more long-term. In these cases, serious and permanent damage to organs can occur.
The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not fully known, but it may be the results of both genetic and environmental factors.
Sarcoidosis and genetics
Sarcoidosis tends to run in families, so there may be a genetic component to the disease. It likely is related to several different genes, as opposed to one specific gene.
A family history of the condition does not guarantee that sarcoidosis will appear in a particular individual in a noticeable way, but certain ethnicities have higher risks: African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and people of Scandinavian or Irish descent are more likely to develop sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis and environmental factors
Sarcoidosis usually begins with a triggering event. This may be an allergic reaction or a reaction to an infection, but the exact causes are unknown.
In either case, the immune response that occurs may be more intense than normal, leading to various symptoms. The most recognizable symptoms include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, swollen or painful joints, and raised red bumps on the skin similar to hives.
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