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Sarcoidosis

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Dec 2018| Content last modified Dec 2018
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What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a disease in which small clumps of inflammatory cells form in one or more of your organs. The clumps of cells are called granulomas. They aren't cancerous. When you have sarcoidosis, you also have inflammation throughout your body.

  • Doctors don’t know what causes sarcoidosis

  • Granulomas most often form in your lungs and lymph nodes, but they can happen in any organ

  • Granulomas in your lungs can make you cough and feel short of breath

  • Inflammation throughout your body can give you fevers, weight loss, and joint pain

  • To tell if you have sarcoidosis, doctors will do a chest x-ray and look at a sample of your tissue under a microscope (biopsy)

  • There's no cure, but sarcoidosis often goes away on its own

  • Doctors can give you medicine to lessen your symptoms

What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?

Many people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. But a few people become very ill.

Symptoms depend on what part of your body is affected.

General symptoms of sarcoidosis include:

  • Fever

  • Feeling weak and tired

  • No appetite and losing weight

  • Painful, swollen joints

  • Swollen lymph nodes (small bean-shaped organs in your neck, groin, and armpits)

Lung symptoms are the most common and include:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Coughing, sometimes coughing up blood

Skin symptoms are common and include:

  • Painful red bumps on your shins (erythema nodosum)

  • Flat or raised patches on your nose, cheeks, lips, and ears

Eye symptoms include:

  • Red, painful, watery eyes

  • Decreased vision and rarely blindness

Heart symptoms are rare but can be dangerous. You may have:

Many other parts of your body can be affected.

How can doctors tell if I have sarcoidosis?

Doctors usually suspect sarcoidosis if you have:

To tell for sure, doctors usually:

  • Take a sample of your tissue, usually from your lungs, and look at it under a microscope (biopsy)

If you have sarcoidosis, doctors will check how your lungs are working using:

You'll also have other tests to see what organs are affected. You may have ECG, CT scan, PET scan, an eye examination by an eye specialist, and blood tests.

How do doctors treat sarcoidosis?

Doctors don’t treat sarcoidosis unless it's causing symptoms.

To lessen your symptoms, doctors may have you take:

  • NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to lessen pain or fever

  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to treat inflammation

If corticosteroids don't help, doctors may use stronger medicines that block your immune system.

If you have sarcoidosis in your heart, doctors may put in a pacemaker (a small electrical device that doctors put in your chest to help control unusual heart rhythms).

Rarely, if sarcoidosis has severely injured your lungs, heart, or liver, you may need an organ transplant.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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