How Is Sarcoidosis Treated?
After receiving the test results, a specialist will help you decide on a treatment plan. The goal of treatment is remission, meaning that the condition is no longer causing any complications. Many patients require no treatment at all but should be followed by a specialist regardless.
If you do need treatment, specialists often use medications that turn down your immune system's activity. Several different medications can be prescribed to treat sarcoidosis. These 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 be tapered off as your symptoms improve.
- Methotrexate, a medication that is used with, or sometimes instead of, prednisone to suppress the immune system. It is taken once a week, orally or as a shot.
- 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 a doctor and stay on top of your lab work. If your sarcoidosis of the lungs progresses to pulmonary fibrosis, your doctor 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.
Managing sarcoidosis involves monitoring your symptoms closely to track the effectiveness of treatments. Medical treatment can be used to control symptoms, prevent complications and improve outcomes in patients with persistent sarcoidosis. If you have 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 doctor 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. 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 doctor 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.
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Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.
Page last updated: October 24, 2020