Sarcoidosis is a condition in which clusters of cells build up in areas of the body, such as the skin, lungs, eyes, and joints. These clusters are called granulomas. Often sarcoidosis is not serious and goes away on its own. However, in some cases the disease is chronic and causes damage to organs. Up to 30 percent of people with sarcoidosis suffer lung damage. In some cases, sarcoidosis leads to death. The cause of the condition is not clear, but doctors and scientists believe genetics, the immune system, and the environment are involved.
Sarcoidosis occurs more often in people of African American and Northern European descent. In fact, African Americans are three and a half times more likely to get sarcoidosis than other ethnic groups. There is also some evidence that 14 percent of cases of sarcoidosis are familial, or hereditary. This suggests the condition may have something to do with a person’s genetics.
Immune System Triggered by Environment.
Other evidence suggests that sarcoidosis is an immune system response to an environmental trigger. Under normal circumstances, the body’s immune system protects it against attacking bacteria and viruses. Inflammation happens as a natural part of the immune system process. However, when a person has sarcoidosis, the inflammation does not resolve. Instead, it creates granulomas.
Some scientists believe that sarcoidosis is actually caused by a combination of genetics and the immune system being triggered by an environmental factor. In other words, when a person who has the genetic makeup for sarcoidosis encounters an environmental factor, like a virus, the immune system is triggered into the improper response that causes granulomas to form. The environmental factor that triggers the immune system can vary based on a person’s genetics.
Although scientists haven’t quite figured out the cause of sarcoidosis yet, certain risk factors have been identified. Some of the risk factors for sarcoidosis are:
- Gender: Women are at a slightly greater risk than men for developing sarcoidosis.
- Age: Sarcoidosis usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40.
- Family History: Having a family member with sarcoidosis puts a person at higher risk.
- Ethnicity: African Americans are at a higher risk for sarcoidosis and may experience more severe cases of the condition, including lung complications.
If the older adult in your life has chronic sarcoidosis, hiring a senior care provider through an in-home care agency could help. A senior care provider can remind the senior to take medications prescribed by their doctor to control sarcoidosis symptoms. They can also assist with tasks that the senior may be unable to do because of complications of the disease, such as light housework and cooking.
The staff at Home Care Matters is available to talk with you and your family about all of your needs. Home Care Matters is a home care agency providing quality and affordable senior care in Gainesville, GA and the surrounding areas. Call (678) 828-2195 for more information.