Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that may affect many different parts of the body. Small round spots, called granulomas, form in various organs, slowing their functioning.
What Causes Sarcoidosis?
We do not know the cause of sarcoidosis, although it seems to be related to a breakdown of the immune system possibly triggered by an infection or exposure to a toxin in the environment.
Genetic factors may play a part, as well as these factors:
- Age: 20 to 40
- Sex: female
- Ethnic descent: African-American, Northern European, Scandinavian, Irish
Symptoms vary and can occur in different parts of the body, depending on where the granulomas form. Most symptoms develop in the lungs, skin, eyes and liver. Multiple body systems may be affected. Symptoms may come and go. This disease is often acute, but in some people, it is chronic.
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Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Pain or irritation of eyes
- Fatigue, especially with exertion
- Muscle weakness
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty hearing
- Blurred vision or blindness
- Poor coordination
- Trouble walking
- Irregular heart rate
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints
- Facial paralysis known as Bell's Palsy
Doctors diagnose sarcoidosis based on symptoms and medical tests that are usually positive in those with this condition, including blood and urine tests, x-rays and CT scans.
We may also test heart and lung function.
Treatment aims to ease symptoms and minimize permanent problems.
You need regular medical and eye exams to monitor for symptoms and complications of sarcoidosis.
Your doctor may prescribe:
- Steroids to decrease inflammation
- Methotrexate or azathioprine, if you do not respond to steroids
- Hydroxychloroquine to treat skin problems
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat musculoskeletal symptoms
- Pulmonary rehabilitation programs to improve lung function
- Topical steroids to treat rashes
- Eye drops to treat mild eye problems
To help minimize your symptoms:
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit
- Avoid exposure to dust and chemicals
- Notify your doctor right away if any symptoms develop or worsen
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.