by Debra Wood, RN
Sarcoidosis is a disease that causes inflammation in organs throughout the body. It forms small round spots, called granulomas, in various organs or tissue. The most common locations are the lungs and lymph nodes. The spots can make it difficult for the organs to work normally.
Inflammation is a normal part of how the body acts toward an infection or injury. However, the inflammation should pass once the area has healed. With sarcoidosis the inflammation does not pass. The cells that cause the inflammation stay and cause granulomas. It is not clear why this happens. An infection or exposure to a toxin in the environment may trigger the change.
Sarcoidosis is more common in females and at ages 20 to 40 years old. Factors that may increase the chance of sarcoidosis include:
There are few symptoms in early stages. Symptoms will depend on what organs are affected. Symptoms may come and go.
Many will feel flu-like symptoms such as:
Lungs are often affected and can cause:
Other possible symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done including listening to the heart and lungs and checking lymph nodes. Tests that may help find sarcoidosis signs or rule out other causes include:
There is no specific test that confirms sarcoidosis. Instead, diagnosis is based on:
Other tests may be done to see how well the affected organs are working. Tests may be done even if there are no symptoms and may include:
Not all sarcoidosis needs to be treated. Many will only have minor symptoms and the sarcoidosis will pass on its own. The doctor will monitor for any changes including regular eye exams and lung tests.
Treatment may be needed to ease more serious symptoms. It can also help to decrease the chance of permanent problems. Treatment may include:
Medication may help to manage the inflammation and decrease damage. Options include:
Pulmonary rehabilitation may help to improve lung function.
There are no current guidelines to prevent sarcoidosis because the cause is unknown.
The Arthritis Society
The Lung Association
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Last reviewed November 2017 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/20/2017
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