Frequently Asked Questions
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that causes tiny collections of inflammatory tissue (granulomas) in different parts of the body—most commonly in the lungs, skin, and lymphatics.
Sarcoidosis was thought to be an uncommon disease in the past, but is now known to affect thousands of patients.
It affects a variety of people, but in general a younger population, females more than males and some races more than others, including African American and European populations.
Sarcoidosis can present without any symptoms in some patients with only imaging pointing towards disease. As the disease can involve multiple organs, the symptoms might be variable. Sometimes these can be non-specific, such as fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite. Lungs are the most commonly involved organs and hence, cough, shortness of breath and other respiratory symptoms can be the presenting features. Skin rash, joint pain and red eyes can occur commonly as well. The symptoms also depend on how long the disease has been there, as well as on age, sex and race.
There is no cure for sarcoidosis and, in some cases, it is not necessary to treat the disease because it frequently goes away on its own.
When treatment is necessary, the doctor may prescribe steroids and other medications to suppress inflammation in the body.
Sarcoidosis is diagnosed based on your signs and symptoms, as well as your medical history, family history, and test results. Your doctor may perform an imaging test, such as a chest X-ray, CT scan, PET scan or MRI. They may then take a biopsy by taking a small amount of tissue to study in a laboratory.
In some cases sarcoidosis may go away for a period of time and then come back. In other cases, individuals with sarcoidosis may experience “flare ups” of symptoms with other periods that are asymptomatic.
No. Sarcoidosis can run in families, but it does not spread the same way as bacteria or a virus.
As with any disease, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes being active and eating well while avoiding cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Be sure to take your prescribed medications regularly and keep in contact with your medical team.
Certain occupations and occupational exposures have been linked to sarcoidosis. Ask your doctor if he or she believes your disease could be related to exposure through your workplace.
Sarcoidosis can run in some families, but a clear inheritance link has yet to be established in the same way that eye color is passed from parents to children.
Sarcoidosis is not cancer. Because the inflammatory tissue clusters together, sometimes the disease appears similar to cancer in imaging studies like CT and PET scans.
Receiving care from a specialized center offers you the opportunity to be supported by multidisciplinary medical professionals who are experienced in working with sarcoidosis in particular, as well as related areas such as pulmonary hypertension and lung transplantation. The center may also offer additional services such as opportunities for advanced education about your disease, support groups, and clinical trials.