- Belung Magazine
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Sarcoidosis: a riddle to unfold

What’s the cause? How can it be cured?

Despite the fact that sarcoidosis was already described for the first time in 1877, to this day much is still unclear about the disease. What’s the cause? How can it be cured? And why does the disease simply disappear in some patients and turns into a chronic incurable disease in others? There are a lot of mysteries in sarcoidosis that still need to be unraveled.

Sarcoidosis is a rare, inflammatory disease in which abnormal nodules (called granulomas) are formed in different organs. Basically, the immune system attacks the body’s own organs, for instance the lungs, heart, skin, central nervous system and eyes. Because the illness can affect so many different organs, symptoms vary wildly from fatigue, shortness of breath and fever to joint pain and blurred vision. Also, some patients have no outward symptoms at all, while in others the sarcoidosis starts suddenly and severely and subsides in a short period of time.


In most patients, sarcoidosis occurs between twenty and forty years of age and women are being diagnosed more frequently than men. The diagnosis is usually made after a physical exam and diagnostic tests including a chest X-ray, lung function tests and biopsies.

Despite the many diagnostic tests men and women have to go through, there is no known cure for sarcoidosis. However, when a patient shows mild symptoms, treatment might not be necessary. If treatment is indicated, corticosteroids (prednisone) are the main therapy. It reduces the inflammation. Other medicines are hydroxychloroquine and medicines that suppress the immune system. Interestingly enough, the majority of sarcoidosis cases are self-limiting: the disease disappears, sometimes even without treatment.

‘I hope to assist researchers at the University Hospital in Leuven with a sarcoidosis trial’

Some patients have a unique way of dealing with sarcoidosis, like this brave woman from Belgium for example. Instead of throwing in the towel she decided to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology. ‘I hope to assist researchers at the University Hospital in Leuven with a sarcoidosis trial’, she explains. ‘However, it’s difficult to finance the extra help’. Did you know she started a crowdfunding action to raise money in order to pay for her own salary? In the end, she does not think she will be able to cure the disease. ‘I am quite realistic about that. Sarcoidosis was already discovered in the nineteenth century. A lot of research has been done since then, so I don’t think a solution will miraculously appear. However, every step forward is a step in the right direction.’