Sarcoidosis Symptoms and Treatment

Sarcoidosis is characterized by inflammation and/or fibrosis of affected organs. Symptoms vary depending on the affected organ and amount of inflammation or fibrosis. More than 90% of patients with sarcoidosis have lung involvement.

Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of sarcoidosis is currently unknown. The condition is more common in:

  • Ages 20-40
  • Women more than men
  • Certain racial populations
    • African Americans may present with more severe cases and be more likely to recur
    • Northern European Caucasian, especially Scandinavians

Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of sarcoidosis:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of soft tissue or joints
  • Rash
  • Eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and light sensitivity
  • Weakness, tingling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations

The symptoms of sarcoidosis can vary markedly depending on the affected organ and amount of inflammation and/or fibrosis. These symptoms of sarcoidosis are non-specific since many different conditions may cause them. Consult your physician for diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Sarcoidosis is difficult to diagnose since many other conditions may have a similar presentation. History & physical examination, laboratory results, and imaging may suggest sarcoidosis but are usually not definitive for diagnosis. A biopsy of the affected organ is typically required to confirm the diagnosis of sarcoidosis and rule out other serious diseases such as cancer, infection, or other inflammatory conditions. Regardless of the affected organ, the biopsy for sarcoidosis typically shows “non-caseating granulomas.” Experienced pathologists and physicians may need to review biopsies to confirm findings and rule out other causes.

Treatment

Anti-inflammatories, such as steroids, are typically used to treat sarcoidosis. Common sarcoidosis treatments include:

  • Corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Neuropathic pain medications
  • Watchful waiting (when sarcoidosis is not active or symptoms are due to organ damage that is not reversible)

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