April is designated as Sarcoidosis Awareness Month. This year’s event will be the sixth annual awareness campaign, which will involve collaboration between the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research and the American Lung Association. Spreading awareness about sarcoidosis is more urgent than ever. With 90 percent of patients dealing with lung-related symptoms, this community has special concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarcoidosis is a rare disease which is characterized by the appearance of unusual aggregates of inflammatory cells. These aggregates are called granulomas. The disease can affect almost any part of the body, but it most commonly appears in the lungs, lymph nodes, and skin. Unfortunately, the precise cause of sarcoidosis remains a mystery. The prevailing theory is that it is the result of alterations to the immune response following exposure to a certain trigger, such as an infectious pathogen. Certain genetic mutations, affecting BTLN2 and possibly HLA-DR, are considered risk factors. The disease is also associated with certain autoimmune diseases. Symptoms vary depending on the organs affected but may include weight loss, fatigue, bone pain, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, skin ulcers and lumps, and skin discoloration. Symptoms are mild in most cases and many patients can control their disease with ibuprofen. Other treatments for more serious disease include steroids, glucocorticoids, antimetabolites, and immunosuppressants. To learn more about sarcoidosis, click here.
Sarcoidosis and Coronavirus/COVID-19
A major focus of the awareness campaign this year will be on providing patients with access to the information and resources they need to protect themselves from infection. Many people in this patient community could be at an increased risk of severe complications if they get infected with coronavirus due to the weakened state of the lung; many patients may also be using medication that suppress the immune system, further exacerbating the risk.
Here are some ways you can participate in this year’s Sarcoidosis Awareness Month:
- Ask the Expert on Inspire. This event will allow patients to ask world renowned experts about their illness and is being held from April 6th to April 10th. Get started here.
- A Sarcoidosis Webinar will be held on April 15th. Learn more about it here.
- World Sarcoidosis Day is held on April 13th. Get involved by taking a photo of yourself wearing purple while holding this printable sign and share it on social media using the hashtags #WorldSarcDay and #StopSarcoidosis.
To learn more about Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, click here.