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Sarcoidosis (say "sar-koy-DOH-sus") is a rare disease that creates tiny lumps of cells throughout the body. These lumps are called granulomas. They can form anywhere on the inside or outside of the body and can cause permanent scar tissue. They often form in the lungs. They may also form in the lymph nodes, liver, skin, or eyes. Sometimes sarcoidosis can cause high calcium levels in the blood.
Sarcoidosis may affect how an organ works. For instance, if it's in your lungs, you may be short of breath.
No one can predict how sarcoidosis might affect you. Some people don't have any symptoms at all. For some people, sarcoidosis appears just for a short time and then heals itself—without any treatment. For other people, sarcoidosis may cause long-lasting damage to the organ, and treatment may be needed.
No one knows for sure what causes sarcoidosis.
It may be caused by an abnormal response of the body's immune system. The trigger for this response is not known. Possible triggers include bacteria, viruses, chemicals, toxins, and allergens such as mould or mildew.
The disease doesn't spread from person to person.
For some people, sarcoidosis may cause no symptoms at all. For others, it can cause a variety of symptoms depending on which part of the body or which organs it affects. Examples of symptoms include:
Sarcoidosis is often found in patients who don't have any symptoms of sarcoidosis but who have abnormal chest X-ray results.
Sometimes doctors can diagnose the disease after a physical or eye exam or by looking at a chest X-ray. Different tests like lab tests and lung tests can also help doctors make a correct diagnosis.
Your doctor may ask to take a sample of cells (biopsy) from the affected organ and examine them to make sure that the disease really is sarcoidosis. By looking at the biopsy, doctors can rule out other diseases that look like sarcoidosis.
Not everyone who has sarcoidosis needs treatment. Sometimes the disease goes away on its own. If the disease affects certain organs—such as your eyes, heart, or brain—you may choose to have treatment even if you don't have any symptoms.
Taking a corticosteroid medicine is a common way to treat sarcoidosis. It works by reducing the inflammation caused by the disease.
If you take a corticosteroid, stay in close contact with your doctor to make sure that you find the lowest dose you need to control your disease. Long-term use of this medicine, especially in high doses, can cause serious side effects.
Other medicines may be used to treat sarcoidosis along with or instead of corticosteroids.
Even if you don't have any symptoms, keep seeing your doctor for ongoing care. Your doctor will want to check to make sure that the disease isn't damaging your organs. For example, you may need routine tests to make sure that your lungs are working well. And you should get your eyes examined regularly, even if you don't have vision problems.
Be sure to follow these steps at home:
Having a healthy lifestyle can help you manage your health. For example:
Current as of: November 14, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineJoLynn Montgomery PA - Family Medicine
Current as of: November 14, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & JoLynn Montgomery PA - Family Medicine
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