Sarcoidosis causes inflammation of tissues in the body, and it’s characterized by granulomas, which are clumps of inflamed immune cells. It can attack any organ, but approximately ninety percent f sarcoidosis cases involve pulmonary organs. Pulmonary sarcoidosis causes loss of lung volume and increased lung stiffness. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear, and other times patients experience shortness of breath, dry cough, and wheezing. Sarcoidosis affects mainly adults between ages 20 and 40, and blacks have a three times greater risk for sarcoidosis as Caucasians.
Diagnosis typically involves a medical history, physical, and any number of diagnostic tests. A chest X-ray, which shows granulomas or lymph nodes, is almost always used to confirm a diagnosis of sarcoidosis. Ninety five percent of those with sarcoidosis have an abnormal chest x-ray. Pulmonary function tests are used to measure how your lungs are affected by the disease. A spirometer, for example, measures the amount of air that goes in and out of your lungs; low amounts can indicate sarcoidosis. Another measurement for sarcoidosis is the amount of oxygen in the blood. Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method for showing the amount of oxygen the heart and lungs are moving into your blood. An arterial blood gas test reveals the same information as pulse oximetry, only an AB is invasive but more accurate. Sometimes a bronchoscopy is performed so doctors can take a look at your airways. A lavage also may be doe at the same time to bring up cells from the airways that may indicate the presence of granulomas.