I’m a veteran with sarcoidosis. Which body organs are most affected by this disease?

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can attack many body organs and usually affects the lungs. The inflammation that X-ray of a Body Showing Lungs Highlighted in Orangeoccurs as part of this chronic condition causes a buildup of granular type nodules—granulomas—that look like grains of sugar or sand. When the granulomas cluster together on an organ, they can change the way the organ functions.

Sarcoidosis is not unique to the military, as both veterans and civilians experience this disease. Research has been inconclusive about whether sarcoidosis is caused by environmental and occupational exposures. What is known is that the lungs are most often affected by this disease, as well as the skin and eyes. Some people have serious symptoms that must be treated with drugs and sometimes with an organ transplant. If you’re a veteran suffering from sarcoidosis, you may be eligible for disability benefits from The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

What Body Organs Are Most Affected?

One or many body organs can be affected by sarcoidosis. Here is information about three specific body organs that are most often attacked by this disease:

  • Lungs. Sarcoidosis commonly affects the lungs and is called pulmonary sarcoidosis. Small, inflamed patches of cells may appear on the lymph nodes, air sacs, or breathing tubes of the lungs. When this happens, the lungs may become stiff and unable to hold the amount of air that healthy lungs can hold. In severe cases, this disease causes scar tissue that can negatively affect the lung’s ability to move oxygen into the bloodstream.
  • Skin. Sarcoidosis frequently affects the skin. It appears as red, tender bumps—often on the shins. Sometimes it’s accompanied by joint pain and fever. Although these symptoms will sometimes resolve in a few months, prolonged sarcoidosis may produce raised patches or “plaques,” flat patches, or plaques that discolor the ears, lips, cheeks, or nose.
  • Eyes. Approximately 25 to 50 percent of patients with sarcoidosis have symptoms that impact the eyes. These symptoms may include: redness, itching, blurred vision, sensitivity to sunlight, and burning. Patients might also experience small yellow bumps on their eyes. The most serious eye problem is uveitis. This condition occurs when the uvea—the inner layer of the eye that includes connective tissues, blood vessels, and the iris—becomes inflamed. When a patient experiences uveitis, the front of the eye can become very sticky and cause increased eye pressure because the iris and the lens may stick together. Patients often complain of pain, and, if left untreated, uveitis can cause blindness.

If you’re a veteran and suffer from sarcoidosis with symptoms that have become debilitating, and you believe your military service caused your condition, contact us at 402-933-5405. Let us review your case and discuss your eligibility for VA Disability benefits.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska