Sarcoidosis

How to Say It: Sar-coy-doe-sis

Definition

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease where small lumps form in the body. The lumps are called granulomas. They can lead to inflammation in the tissue. The lumps are most common in the lungs and lymph nodes. However, they can form in any part of the body.

The condition can range from mild to life-threatening.

Causes

The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not known. It is likely due to genes and the environment.

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of sarcoidosis are:

  • A family history of the condition
  • Interferon therapy
  • Working in certain jobs, such as:
    • The U.S. Navy
    • Metal working
    • Firefighting
    • Handling building supplies
  • HIV (rare)

Symptoms

Sarcoidosis may not cause symptoms at first. Symptoms that happen depend on the organs involved. Symptoms may be:

  • Lasting cough
  • Problems breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Skin bumps or rashes
  • Headache, lightheadedness, or drooping of the face

Bell Palsy

Facial droop and nerves
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will focus on the affected area.

Images may be taken to view the lungs and lymph nodes. This can be done with

A sample of tissue may be taken and tested—to look for granulomas.

Other tests may be done to see how well organs are working. These may be:

Diagnosis is often made after other conditions are ruled out.

Treatment

There is no cure for sarcoidosis. The goal is to manage symptoms. If the condition is mild, treatment may not be needed. If symptoms are severe or could cause damage, options may be:

Medicines, such as:

  • Corticosteroids—to ease inflammation
  • Medicine to lower the immune system
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors—to ease inflammation
  • Antimicrobial drugs—to treat skin problems

Transplant of the heart, lung, liver, or kidneys may be needed if medicine does not help.

Prevention

There are no guidelines to prevent sarcoidosis.

RESOURCES:

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org
Arthritis Foundation
http://www.arthritis.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Arthritis Society
http://www.arthritis.ca
The Lung Association
http://www.lung.ca

References:

Explore sarcoidosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sarcoidosis. Accessed August 9, 2021.
Sarcoidosis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sarcoidosis-in-adults. Accessed August 9, 2021.
Sarcoidosis in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sarcoidosis-in-children . Accessed August 9, 2021.
8/9/2021 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Soto-Gomez N, Peters JI, et al. Diagnosis and management of sarcoidosis. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(10:840-848.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/9/2021

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