Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that usually affects the lungs and lymph nodes, but it can spread to other organs, including the eyes, skin, liver and kidneys. In severe cases, the heart, brain and spinal cord can also be involved.
Researchers believe that sarcoidosis begins with an immune response to an irritant that’s inhaled, such as bacteria, viruses or chemicals. The normal immune response is to send immune cells to destroy the harmful substance and protect the organs. In sarcoidosis, the immune cells cluster and form lumps called granulomas, which can interfere with normal organ function.
In two-thirds of all patients, sarcoidosis goes into remission within 3 to 10 years. For the other third, sarcoidosis persists and can lead to severe organ damage.