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National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month: Have You Heard of This Disease?

By Ketan Shah

Sarah was worried about her aging mother. She had been complaining of shortness of breath, fatigue and a dry and persistent cough for several weeks ow. The home care aide had just informed her that she had noticed some raised red rashes on her mother’s neck and ankles. And now, it seemed that her lymph nodes at her neck were swollen. Sarah feared the worst, from tuberculosis and lupus to cancer.

After many different tests, including chest x-rays, the doctor determined that Sarah’s mother had contracted elderly-onset sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects certain organs in the body. The condition sounded scary, but Sarah and her mother soon learned about elderly-onset sarcoidosis and that she would be fine with some standard treatment and monitoring.

What is Elderly-Onset Sarcoidosis?

Most people have not heard of the disease known as elderly-onset sarcoidosis, yet it affects thousands of people in the United States and across the globe. Medical experts don’t know what causes it and there is no cure to date. It causes small tissue growths or pustules to grow around certain organs in the body, usually the lungs. In many instances, the growths don’t affect the person at all, while in other cases it can seriously affect how they function. It is most commonly found in people under the age of 40, but more than 30 percent of diagnosed cases are found in people over 65.

What are the Symptoms of Elderly-Onset Sarcoidosis?

With Sarah’s mother, she displayed the most typical symptoms of elderly-onset sarcoidosis. While some mild cases may not even trigger symptoms, those with elderly-onset sarcoidosis often experience fatigue, coughing, difficulty breathing, rashes, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain. Many of these symptoms are typical of other conditions and diseases so diagnosing elderly-onset sarcoidosis is often a process of elimination for doctors. Chest x-rays will often reveal the pustules on the lungs, giving even more clues as to what’s going on inside the body.

How is Elderly-Onset Sarcoidosis Treated?

When someone has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, there is a wide spectrum of how the disease may affect them. Some people don’t experience any problems and the condition is only discovered by accident when doctors are looking into some other health issue. Other people are quite affected by it and sarcoidosis can have a big impact on their organs and their quality of life. Treatments include corticosteroids and keeping up with healthy diet and exercise habits. Many times, the disease goes into remission and doesn’t reoccur, while others might suffer with chronic symptoms. With ongoing medical care, elderly-onset sarcoidosis can be managed well.

The National Sarcoidosis Society has designated April as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month and encourages everyone to learn more about the condition and educate themselves about the symptoms. With elderly-onset sarcoidosis, many seniors need others around them, like their family caregivers and home care aides, to help them identify symptoms. Without caregiver help, seniors may not report anything to their doctor and therefore delay or ignore any treatment. Everyone is invited to learn more about this disease throughout National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Cupertino, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.