By: Paige Paperone
When we feel fatigued, no matter how much sleep we have gotten, we tend to find something obvious to blame it on: “I’m working too much.” “I’ve been so stressed out lately.” “I have kids, of course I’m tired!”
However, fatigue along with a certain set of symptoms could indicate a serious underlying illness- sarcoidosis. On August 9, 2008, comedian and actor, Bernie Mac, passed away from complications related to this devastating disease.
Sarcoidosis is a systemic inflammatory disease that can involve almost any organ in the body. The exact cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown. In the United States, the disease most frequently occurs in the African American community. According to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, among African Americans, the estimated lifetime risk of developing sarcoidosis may be as high as 2%.
Sarcoidosis can sometimes be asymptomatic and even when symptoms are present they are indistinct. Symptoms other than fatigue include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry eye
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Erythema nodosum- pink nodules on the skin
- Lupus pernio- bluish lesions located on the face; hardened
Granulomas are the primary characteristic of sarcoidosis. They are clusters of chronic inflammatory cells that can build up in an organ like the lungs causing symptoms like shortness of breath.
It is important to stress that there is not one exact presentation of the disease, some patients have no symptoms and others have multiple failing organs. Robert Baughman compares the presentation of sarcoidosis to a snowflake- no two patients are exactly alike. Although the disease presents in varied patterns, in most cases there will be some type of lung involvement.
In conclusion, if you are not feeling like yourself, do not just chalk it up to a busy lifestyle. Always go to your doctor if you suspect anything abnormal. Please visit www.stopsarcoidosis.org to learn more about this disease. Stay healthy and happy!