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Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which granulomas, or clumps of inflammatory cells, form in various organs. This causes organ inflammation. Sarcoidosis may be triggered by your body’s immune system responding to foreign substances, such as viruses, bacteria, or chemicals.
The areas of the body commonly affected by sarcoidosis include:
The exact cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. However, gender, race, and genetics can increase the risk of developing the condition:
Sarcoidosis rarely occurs in children. Symptoms usually appear in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Some people with sarcoidosis don’t have any symptoms. However, general symptoms may include:
Symptoms vary depending on the part of your body that’s affected by the disease. Sarcoidosis can occur in any organ, but it most commonly affects the lungs. Lung symptoms can include:
Skin symptoms can include:
Nervous system symptoms can include:
Eye symptoms can include:
It can be difficult to diagnose sarcoidosis. Symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases, such as arthritis or cancer. Your doctor will run a variety of tests to make a diagnosis.
Your doctor will first perform a physical examination to:
Based on the findings, your doctor may order additional diagnostic tests:
Your doctor may also order blood tests to check your kidney and liver function.
There’s no cure for sarcoidosis. However, symptoms often improve without treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medications if your inflammation is severe. These can include corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications (medications that suppress your immune system), which can both help reduce inflammation.
Treatment is also more likely if the disease affects your:
The length of any treatment will vary. Some people take medication for one to two years. Other people may need to be on medication for much longer.
Most people who are diagnosed with sarcoidosis don’t experience complications. However, sarcoidosis can become a chronic, or long-term, condition. Other potential complications may include:
In rare cases, sarcoidosis causes severe heart and lung damage. If this occurs, you may need immunosuppressive medications.
It’s important to contact your doctor if you have:
These can be signs of dangerous complications.
Your doctor may recommend that you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist because this disease can affect your eyes without causing immediate symptoms.
The outlook is generally good for people with sarcoidosis. Many people live relatively healthy, active lives. Symptoms often improve with or without treatment in about two years.
In some cases, however, sarcoidosis can become a long-term condition. If you have trouble coping, you can talk to a psychotherapist or join a sarcoidosis support group.
Written by: Valencia Higuera
Medically reviewed on: May 29, 2017: Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR
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