Sarcoidosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

What Are the Symptoms of Sarcoidosis?

The symptoms of sarcoidosis vary from person to person and depend greatly on what area of your body is being affected. In some people, symptoms will appear suddenly and go away quickly. You may not experience any symptoms for years, even though granulomas are forming in your organs. Sarcoidosis also commonly affects the skin and eyes. Symptoms can include skin rashes or raised bumps on the skin, joint pain or stiffness, eye irritation or dryness of the eyes and blurry vision. Some people experience severe disease in one or multiple organs.

General symptoms of sarcoidosis can vary based on what organ(s) are impacted and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • A feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Weight loss 
  • Depression 

If your sarcoidosis affects your lungs you may have respiratory symptoms, such as:

Other important symptoms that could suggest involvement of organs other than the lung include:

  • Skin: rashes, bumps/nodules under the skin
  • Joints: swollen or painful joints
  • Eyes: red eye, itchy eye, painful eye, changes in vision
  • Heart: swelling, shortness of breath, palpitations, lightheadedness/passing out
  • Nervous system: numbness/tingling, pain, stroke like symptoms, seizures

How Is Sarcoidosis Diagnosed?

If you have sarcoidosis, you may have symptoms for several months to years before you are diagnosed. In many cases, it is a hard disease to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other, more common diseases.

How is Sarcoidosis Diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will begin by performing a physical exam and taking down your medical history, your job history, medications you have been or are currently taking and the possibility of environmental exposure to elements that can trigger sarcoidosis.
What to Expect from Diagnosis

Ruling Out Other Diagnosis

Your healthcare provider will do several different types of tests to rule out other diseases as the source of your symptoms, and to determine which of your body systems are being affected. They will also check for granulomas to confirm a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.

Testing for Sarcoidosis

Some of the tests and procedures you may be given include: 

  • Breathing tests to find out how much lung function you have and also test how well your body has responded to treatment after you've started taking medication. 
  • Chest X-ray to look at your lungs and airways.
  • Blood and urine tests to help assess your overall health, including your kidney and liver function. 
  • A chest CT scan to find out if your lung tissue and lymph nodes in your chest are normal. A CT scan will also alert your provider to any granulomas that have developed. You may also be given 
  • An eye exam
  • An echocardiogram of the heart.

If your imaging test shows enlarged lymph nodes or spots on your lungs, you may be sent to a lung specialist or surgeon for a biopsy (a sample of your lung tissue). This sample can help healthcare providers understand what is causing your symptoms and abnormal imaging results and rule out other diseases so that you can receive the correct treatment.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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