So you have been diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. What’s next? If you are wondering how to deal with the disease, follow these tips to manage your symptoms and speed up the healing process.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most commonly affects the lungs, lymph nodes, skin, and eyes. This disease is characterized by granulomas—the growth of tiny collections of immune inflammatory cells in different parts of your body. As these granulomas increase in an organ, they can affect the function of that organ.
The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not yet known, but doctors believe that it is the result of the immune system of your body responding to some unknown substance, which you possibly inhaled from the air. Also, some people seem to be genetically predisposed to developing this condition, which may be triggered if they are exposed to certain viruses, chemicals, or even dust. The signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis may differ in each person, as it depends on which organs have been affected by the disease. Some of the most common symptoms of sarcoidosis include swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, weight loss, and fever. In most cases, people with sarcoidosis eventually experience some lung problems like shortness of breath, a constant dry cough, wheezing, and chest pain. Skin problems (rashes, lesions, nodules, etc.) and eye symptoms (eye pain, blurred vision, redness, and sensitivity to light) are other symptoms that might occur in people with sarcoidosis. The symptoms of this disease sometimes last for several years, while at times they can also appear and disappear quickly. In some people with sarcoidosis, there are no symptoms at all, so the disease might be discovered only while getting an X-ray done for some other health issue.
Currently, there is no cure for sarcoidosis. However, the good news is that in many cases, the disease does not require any treatment and goes away on its own. However, if you have chronic sarcoidosis, living with the symptoms can cause considerable discomfort. But there’s no need to fret, because just a little self-care and adherence to your doctor’s advice can help you deal with the symptoms to a significant extent. Here are some ways in which you can manage sarcoidosis and its symptoms to complement your treatment plan and expedite the healing process.
Around 50 percent of the people with sarcoidosis accidently discover that they have the disease. Once you know it, keep an eye out for the common signs and symptoms. One of the most effective ways to deal with any disease is to know the details and be aware of what it entails. Talk to the doctors, learn the terminology, and try to research and understand the specific symptoms. This will help you explain your symptoms better to the doctors, and they in turn can provide accurate treatments. Also, learn about the medicines being prescribed to you and others that are usually used by doctors to treat similar symptoms. Note down any side effects that each new medicine might have on you. The more you know about the disease, its associated symptoms, and the medications, the easier it will be for you to understand your treatment plan and manage your symptoms. At the same time, remember not to be overconfident and argue with the doctors; after all, they are the professionals. It is better to discuss any doubts that you might have with the doctors to arrive at the best treatment plan for you.
Since sarcoidosis is often accompanied by lung problems, a lot of your symptoms can be kept under control by just avoiding substances that might trigger your symptoms or cause harm to your lungs. The first step is to quit smoking (if you are a smoker), as all that nicotine isn’t helping your lungs in any way. If you are finding it difficult to quit on your own, seek help and talk to your healthcare provider. There are a number of programs and treatment options to help you stop smoking, and these can be quite effective. In addition, try to stay away from passive smoking if you are a non-smoker.
Other things like chemicals, dust, and toxic inhalants are best avoided by people who have sarcoidosis, as exposure to such substances can irritate your lungs. Talk to an expert about what foods should be avoided to manage the symptoms of sarcoidosis, and try to stay away from those as much as possible.
In several cases, sarcoidosis affects more than one organ in your body. If you too have developed the disease in different parts of your body, you may need to consult more than one specialist in order to get the most accurate treatment plan. In such a scenario, being organized can make a major difference, although it might seem trivial at first. Work on creating an updated contact list of all the doctors that you are consulting. To be safe and to have a backup, make a copy of this and keep it with a family member or a close friend. Moreover, keep a journal of all the medicines you are on, and keep it with you at all times. You can also note down any questions that you might have for the different specialists, the effects of each medicine, and any other thing that you would like to discuss with your doctor. Just a quick look at this before going for your appointment will ensure a fruitful conversation with the doctor. And trust that your efforts won’t go to waste as the doctors are sure to appreciate this.
Sarcoidosis is often not a serious condition, and many people do well with mild treatment. However, do not get complacent even if the treatment has worked well on you. It is vital to keep all the scheduled appointments with your doctors, even if you are feeling fine. Missing out on these appointments might mean skipping an important time-bound step that your doctor had included in your treatment plan. Your doctor may want to take a pulmonary function (breathing) test to check your lungs, or get some blood work done. Moreover, it is very important to remember not to stop any medicine on your own. Consult your doctor about any doubts you have, and strictly follow his/her recommendations to eliminate any risks of worsening your condition. Also, take the initiative to schedule routine appointments with your doctor to ensure that the medication is working.
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