July 21, 2008

Prednisone Can Be a Solid Treatment for Sarcoidosis


Dear Dr. Gott: My son was just recently diagnosed with sarcoidosis and is being treated with prednisone. I understand that this is becoming more common in recent years and wondered if you have any information about it.

Dear Reader: Sarcoidosis occurs when inflammation causes tiny lumps of cells (granulomas). The granulomas can continue to grow and clump together to form larger lumps or groups of lumps. If many form in an organ, function is affected.

Sarcoidosis can occur in nearly any part of the body but most often affects the lungs and/or lymph nodes. Other commonly affected areas are the skin, eyes and liver. Very rarely, sarcoidosis can be found in the thyroid gland, kidneys, reproductive organs and breasts. More than one organ is involved in nearly all cases.

Symptoms vary according to what organ is affected. Besides organ- specific symptoms, some general ones include fever, night sweats, uneasiness, malaise, fatigue, sleep problems and loss of appetite or weight.

Diagnosis is usually suspected during a thorough medical history and physical. If the doctor suspects sarcoidosis, he or she might order testing. There is no diagnostic test for sarcoidosis, so all testing must be ordered according the area of the body the doctor suspects is affected.

Treatment will vary according the organ or organs affected, but most cases can be treated with prednisone. If symptoms worsen or the disease progresses, other options are available.

Your son is on appropriate medication and should be followed up on regularly by his doctor.

I recommend the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's sarcoidosis Web site. It can be found at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/ dci/Diseases/sarc/sarc--all.html.

Write Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave. 4th floor, New York, NY 10016.

Originally published by PETER GOTT Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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