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. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]