Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sarcoidosis hard to diagnose, impossible to cure

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — She had a chest cold she couldn't seem to shake. Days turned into weeks, and yet it lingered. Over-the-counter medicine wasn't helping.

Friends told Rancho Cordova, Calif., resident Denise Pena, 37, that feeling tired and nursing a weeks-long cold was a consequence of rearing two active children born 22 months apart.

Tired of being sick, Pena finally went to her doctor in January. Diagnosis: bronchitis. She was given antibiotics. A few weeks later, still sick, the doctor gave her a chest X-ray. Diagnosis: pneumonia. She was given stronger antibiotics. Weeks afterward, she went to another doctor and had another X-ray. A CT scan followed.

And, at last, Pena was given a definitive diagnosis: sarcoidosis.

"They tried to explain it to my husband and I," she says, "but it's hard to understand at first."

They quickly learned that this immune-system disorder causes tiny lumps of cells to cluster in the body's organs. There is no cure, and researchers have yet to identify its causes. Often the condition goes into remission and occasionally it goes away with use of the steroid prednisone.

In some cases, sarcoidosis has led to complications — stroke, organ failure — and death.

This disorder was thrust into the spotlight last month when comedian Bernie Mac died of pneumonia at age 50. Though Mac's publicist says his sarcoidosis was in remission, pneumonia is said to be prevalent among patients.

"It affects mostly the lungs, but sarc is called the great mimicker," says Dr. Amit Karmakar, a pulmonologist at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. "Sometimes people don't even know they have it because they are asymptomatic. Or they'll have some nonspecific complaints like fatigue or muscle aches."

In Pena's case, it was fatigue and chest tightness. But her CT scan showed that the sarcoidosis had settled in her lungs, spleen and liver. After three months of taking prednisone, Pena says she feels much better.

For the most part, she doesn't let the condition stop her from playing with the kids."I try to talk myself up," she said. "There are times when you get depressed, but you can't let life go by."

ON THE WEB

Sarcoidosis

www.stopsarcoidosis.org

www.nlm.nih.gov; search "sarcoidosis"

www.mayoclinic.com; search "sarcoidosis"

Sarcoidosis hard to diagnose, impossible to cure 09/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 4:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hernando budget for 2017-18 includes slight increase in tax rate

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission has given tentative approval to a $452.9 million budget, funded partially by a property tax rate that is slightly higher than last year.

    Wayne Dukes’ 
plan to trim the general fund rate was approved.
  2. A coast away from her roots, American Stage's Stephanie Gularte is soaking up Florida

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The last clear day before the storm, Stephanie Gularte looked at Milo, her 8-year-old Boston terrier.

    "You ready for action, bud?"

    Stephanie Gularte, who arrived in the Tampa Bay area 2 ? years ago to become producing artistic director of American Stage, strolls along Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg with Milo, her 
8-year-old Boston terrier.
  3. Bar review: Coffee Grounds serves java and cocktails in Treasure Island

    Bars & Spirits

    I won't bore you with a tedious recap of Hurricane Irma's aftermath, but by the fourth night without electricity I had to get out of the house. I headed out to the beach to cool off at a bar that I has noticed while passing by not long ago.

    Maren Kritz pours a Chocolate Coffee Martini at Coffee Grounds Coffee and Cocktails bar in Treasure Island. They use local Kahwa.
  4. A firefighter discovered this deer in a badly damaged structure in the Florida Keys.
  5. Cannon Fodder podcast: Sorting through the Bucs' injuries

    Bucs

    Greg Auman sorts through the Bucs players sidelined with injury and illness in the latest edition of our Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Kwon Alexander left the Bucs' game against the Bears with a hamstring injury. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]