Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What are the Symptoms of Sarcoidosis?

When sarcoidosis appears in the lungs—called "pulmonary sarcoidosis"—you may have:

  • a dry cough
  • shortness of breath
  • mild chest pain

When sarcoidosis appears in other parts of the body, you may have:

  • a scaly rash
  • red bumps on your legs
  • fever
  • sore eyes
  • swollen, painful ankles

You may also have more general symptoms like fatigue, weakness, fever and weight loss. Those symptoms are common in other lung diseases, so diagnosing sarcoidosis can be difficult.

How is Sarcoidosis Diagnosed?

Initially a healthcare provider would base a diagnosis on:

  • a physical exam
  • lab tests
  • pulmonary function tests
  • an X-ray of your lungs

Pulmonary function tests measure how well your lungs are working—how well you are breathing. When looking at an X-ray of your lungs, your healthcare provider would be looking for enlarged lymph glands in the chest, which could signal sarcoidosis.

Healthcare providers confirm that you have sarcoidosis by doing a biopsy. They study a sample of cells taken from the inflamed area of the body.

How is Sarcoidosis Treated?

For most people with sarcoidosis, the disease heals itself. No treatment is needed and they can resume their normal lifestyle. People may not even realize they have sarcoidosis in some cases.

Any treatment that is needed is focused on relieving symptoms and keeping the lungs and other affected organs working well. The most common treatment for sarcoidosis are drugs called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation in the body.

Remember:

  • Follow your healthcare provider's directions.
  • If you are taking medication for sarcoidosis, take them exactly as your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • If you are a smoker, make a plan to quit as soon as possible [link to How to Quit]. Smoking worsens the disease.
  • Stay away from dust and chemicals that can harm the lungs.
  • Pay attention to the air quality forecast for your area. Follow precautions for Orange and Red days, when pollution levels are dangerous for anyone with lung disease.
  • Keep appointments for frequent check-ups with your healthcare provider. These are important for anyone diagnosed with sarcoidosis so that your healthcare provider can monitor your illness. If you are being treated with corticosteroids or any other medication, your healthcare provider will need to monitor and possibly adjust your treatment as well.
  • After sarcoidosis heals and symptoms go away, be sure to have a check-up and eye exam every year.