Treating and Managing Sarcoidosis

How Is Sarcoidosis Treated?

The main goals of treatment for sarcoidosis are managing symptoms, decreasing the risk of organ damage, and improving quality of life. You may go into remission, meaning that the condition is no longer causing any complications. If you have no symptoms or they are mild, you may not require treatment, however, it is important for you to continue to see a specialist to be monitored.

Specialists often use medications that will lower your immune system's activity. Immune lowering medications can increase your risk of infection, so it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of each medication. The immune lowering medications may include:

  • Corticosteroids, or prednisone, which turn down the immune system's activity to reduce inflammation. Prednisone can have some serious side effects if taken long term, so you may be treated for a while and then your healthcare provider may gradually decrease your dose of this medication as your symptoms improve.
  • Methotrexate, a medication used to treat severe rheumatoid arthritis can be used to suppress the immune system. 
  • Antimalarials, which are usually used to treat malaria, may help with sarcoidosis of the skin or joints.
  • TNF inhibitors, which are also used to treat inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, may be given intravenously or injected under your skin for sarcoidosis.
  • Corticotropin, a drug that helps your body produce its natural steroid hormones and can be injected under your skin.

Often starting a new medication can come with new side effects, which is why it is important to report any changes to your healthcare provider and stay on top of your lab work. If your sarcoidosis of the lungs progresses to pulmonary fibrosis, your healthcare provider may recommend additional treatments such as respiratory medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and in severe enough cases may consider you a candidate for a lung transplant.

Support provided by an unrestricted educational grant from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

Managing Sarcoidosis

Depending on the location, symptoms and severity of your disease, your treatment and management options may vary.

Managing sarcoidosis involves monitoring your symptoms closely to track the effectiveness of treatments. Since sarcoidosis can affect different organs in your body, it is helpful to have a multidisciplinary team assist you in managing your sarcoidosis.  Medical treatment can be used to control symptoms, prevent complications and improve outcomes if you have persistent sarcoidosis. Your healthcare provider will carefully monitor you to see if your sarcoidosis is getting better or worse and will adapt your treatment depending on how your body is doing.

If your sarcoidosis goes into remission, meaning you no longer have any symptoms, your healthcare provider may choose to slowly stop your medications. Most relapses, also known as a flare, occur in the first six months after medication has been stopped, so it is important to monitor your health closely and continue to be seen by your healthcare provider. The longer you go without symptoms, the less likely it is that you will relapse.

An important part of managing your disease will be finding emotional support. Many people being treated for sarcoidosis feel anxious because symptoms interfere with their daily routine. Depression and anxiety are common. Tell your healthcare provider if you have these feelings as treatment for anxiety and depression may make your sarcoidosis treatment more effective. It can also be helpful to find a community or support group of others with sarcoidosis. Look for a Better Breathers Club for in-person or virtual support groups, join the Patient & Caregiver Network, which is a nationwide, online support program providing direct access to lung disease management tools, or join an online support community like Living With Lung Disease on Inspire.

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

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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