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 Swollen Lymph Nodes Lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system, which helps fight infection and cancer. Lymph nodes are pea-sized collection points that filter out germs and cells from lymph fluid. Lymph nodes... read more , 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:
Feeling weak and tired
No appetite and losing weight
Painful, swollen joints
Swollen lymph nodes Swollen Lymph Nodes Lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system, which helps fight infection and cancer. Lymph nodes are pea-sized collection points that filter out germs and cells from lymph fluid. Lymph nodes... read more (small bean-shaped organs in your neck, groin, and armpits)
Lung symptoms are the most common and include:
Coughing, sometimes coughing up blood
Skin symptoms are common and include:
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 Electrocardiography Electrocardiography is a test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. It's quick, painless, and harmless. The results of that test are shown in an electrocardiogram. It looks like a... read more (electrocardiography), CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more (computed tomography), PET scan Positron Emission Tomography (PET) A PET scan is a test doctors use to take pictures of your organs and tissues. First, doctors inject you with a tiny amount of a radioactive substance (a tracer). The tracer is attached to a... read more (positron emission tomography), 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 (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), 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 Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more .
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 Overview of Transplantation Transplantation is the removal of living, functioning cells, tissues, or organs from the body and then their transfer back into the same body or into a different body. The most common type of... read more .