File photo of nicotine patch courtesy of NBC News.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
After falling on some ice, Jose Serra had a CAT Scan to assess his injuries. His doctor noticed a spot on his lung that he was worried could be cancer.
Jose Serra says, "The result was that it was no cancer; good news. The other news was it's sarcoidosis, was the final diagnosis."
Sarcoidosis is a growth of inflammatory cells, most likely triggered by inhaling things like pesticides.
If it is left untreated, it can cause severe lung damage and even death. Unlike most lung diseases, the main symptom isn't shortness of breath, but crippling fatigue.
Jose says he was drinking three energy drinks just to make it through the day.
His doctor prescribed a steroid, but the side effects were harsher than the disease itself.
Dr. Elliot Crouser, with the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center ,says, "We can't use them for very long before these side effects occur. And they can be very severe, such as the development of diabetes or high blood pressure and complications related to those, osteoporosis, cataracts, etc.."
So, Dr. Crouser is conducting a clinical trial at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to test nicotine patches, normally used to help people quit smoking, as a treatment for sarcoidosis.
Dr. Crouser says, "We're hoping that people will actually get a secondary benefit, not only will their lung disease get better, but they'll also feel more energized and be able to get up and go."
Results from the initial study were promising so Dr. Crouser is now doing a larger, randomized trial, exploring if nicotine patches can be a long term solution to not only help patients feel better, but reverse the progression of the disease.
Researchers will use a newly developed computer system to analyze exactly how much of the disease is in the body. Patients will wear the nicotine patches for six months to see how it affects their disease and their energy levels.