National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day
annually on August 29th (since 1990)
United States House of Representatives on August 4th, 1990
United States Senate on October 16th, 1990
President George H. W. Bush on October 31st, 1990
Sarcoidosis is exhibited by a growth of a collection of inflammatory cells, known as granulomas, somewhere in the body, usually in the lungs or lymph nodes, which can affect their function. Sarcoidosis can also affect the spleen, kidneys, heart, central nervous system, joints, and tissues. It is unknown what causes it, but it may be from the immune system overreacting when responding to an unknown substance, such as to chemicals, dust, or infectious agents, or it may be from an abnormal reaction to the body's proteins.
The symptoms of sarcoidosis are myriad, with some of the most common being persistent cough, nasal drip, fatigue, vomiting, blurred vision and other eye problems, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular or rapid heartbeat, headaches, facial paralysis, swollen lymph nodes, skin issues, weight loss, fainting, and joint swelling. Sarcoidosis can also cause organ damage. Symptoms can grow gradually and last for years, or appear suddenly and disappear quickly. The disease is usually hard to diagnose because symptoms are not often present in early stages, and when they do appear, they look like other issues. Some people have no symptoms at all, and might not even know they have it unless they get an x-ray, which is the main way how the disease can be confirmed.
About 20 to 50 people out of 100,000 get sarcoidosis, and of these, about 5 to 10 percent die from it. It affects more women than men, more people of African descent than other races, and more people between the ages of 20 and 40 than any other age group. Those with family members who have it are more predisposed to it. It is not contagious or curable, but can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication like prednisone or corticosteroids, which may help the condition improve over time.
In March 1990, Representative James Slattery [D-KS] introduced a resolution for National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day to be held on April 16, 1990. Sometime after, the date of observance was changed to August 29th. This date was chosen because the birthday of Slattery's receptionist, Carolyn Anderson, who had sarcoidosis, was on August 29th. But the resolution did not pass until October 31st, and was signed by President George H.W. Bush that same day. Although the resolution called for a presidential proclamation to be issued, none was issued that year.
Then, in 1991, Slattery once again introduced a resolution to designate August 29th as National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day. It was approved by the House and the Senate, and President Bush issued a proclamation for the day. With the day, Slattery wanted to focus the nation's attention on the need for research about detection and treatment of the disease, and to provide an opportunity for information about the disease to be available to at-risk populations. Other attempts have been made to officially recognize the day, such as in 1994 when Representative Sanford Bishop [D-GA] introduced another resolution, which was not adopted. While the only official designation took place in 1991, National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day has continued to be observed on August 29th each year.
How to Observe National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day
Some ways you could observe the day include:
- Get checked for sarcoidosis.
- Learn more about sarcoidosis from the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
- Read a book about sarcoidosis.
- If you have sarcoidosis, join a support group.
- Reach out to anyone you know who has sarcoidosis.