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Sarcoidosis – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prognosis, Pictures

Written by Dr.Mary

What is Sarcoidosis?

This is an illness that is categorized by the growth and developing of tiny clumps of inflamed cells in diverse parts of the body. The areas of the body this illness normally affects include the eyes, skin, lungs and lymph nodes.

Medical researchers theorize that sarcoidosis is the consequences of an abnormal immune response – most possibly caused by something inhaled in the air – but as to exactly what triggers the response is not known. The course of this illness varies from individual to individual. Usually, it gets better on its own but in some individuals symptoms and signs can stay for a lifetime.

If an individual has only minor symptoms or signs of sarcoidosis, he/she might only need to be monitored until the illness resolves. However, if symptoms and signs are annoying or put organs that are vital at risk, management with prescription medications that are anti-inflammatory are helpful.

Sarcoidosis Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of sarcoidosis have a tendency to vary contingent on which organs are involved and how long the disease has been present. Often sarcoidosis grows slowly and develops symptoms and signs that can last for years. Or the symptoms can appear abruptly and then disappear just as quickly. Numerous individuals with sarcoidosis have no symptoms, so the condition might not be found until a chest X-ray for another reason is taken.

Generalized symptoms

For most individuals, sarcoidosis starts with the following symptoms or signs:

Lung symptoms

Almost every person who has sarcoidosis ultimately experiences problems with the lungs, and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing

Skin symptoms

Up to twenty-five (25) percent of individuals who have sarcoidosis develop problems with the skin which might include:

  • Rash – A red or reddish-purple rash of bumps, most commonly located on the ankles or shins, may be tender and warm to the touch.
  • Lesions – Skin sores that are disfiguring can occur on the cheeks, ears and nose.
  • Color change – Areas of the skin might get lighter or darker in color.
  • Nodules – These growths develop just under the skin, especially around tattoos or scars.

Eye symptoms

Eye Symptoms can affect eyes without causing any symptoms, so it is vital to have the eyes regularly checked by a professional. When eyes symptoms do develop, they might include:

  • Vision that is blurred
  • Pain in the eye
  • Severe redness
  • Light sensitivity

Sarcoidosis can cause blindness so a physician must be seen promptly if blurred vision, extreme light sensitivity or eye pain develops.

Sarcoidosis Causes

Medical professionals do not exactly know the cause of sarcoidosis. Certain individuals seem to have an inherited predisposition for development of the illness that might then be triggered by being exposed to some specific viruses, dust, chemicals or bacteria. Research is still being done to identify the trigger substances as well as the genes that are associated with this illness.

Usually, the immune system aids in protecting the body from foreign matter and attacking microorganisms for example viruses and bacteria. But with sarcoidosis, some cells of immunity clump together in order to develop lumps referred to as granulomas. When granulomas grow in any organ, the organ function is deteriorated.

While anyone may develop this disease, factors that might increase the risk include:

Sex and age

Sarcoidosis normally develops between the ages of twenty (20) and forty (40). Women have a slightly greater risk of developing this disease than are men.


Americans who are black have a greater incidence of this disease than do Americans who are white. Moreover, sarcoidosis might be worse in blacks as well as more possible to create problems of the skin.


Globally, this disease is more common in individuals whose families come from Northern Europe – especially Scandinavia as well as Britain. Individuals of Japanese ancestry are most likely to develop cardiac or eye problems from sarcoidosis.

Family History

If a family member has sarcoidosis, other members of that family are more likely to develop the disease.

In approximately 2/3s of individuals with sarcoidosis, the disease resolves with no permanent problems. However, in some patients, the disease can be chronic and leads to complications that can affect various parts of the body, for instance:


Unmanaged pulmonary sarcoidosis may lead to injured tissues between the air sacs becoming permanent, and making it harder to breathe.



Inflammation can affect about any area of the eye and eventually can lead to blindness. Sarcoidosis can cause glaucoma and cataracts. Though, this is very rare.


This disease may affect how the body deals with calcium and may cause kidney failure.


Develop granulomas in the heart can disturb electrical signals that control the heartbeat, and can cause heart rhythms to be abnormal. It can even cause death but this happens rarely.

Nervous system

There are a small amount of individuals with sarcoidosis who develop central nervous system problems when granulomas develops in the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation in nerves of the face often causes facial paralysis.

Reproductive system

With males, sarcoidosis can affect the testes and probably cause infertility. Females with sarcoidosis might find it much harder to conceive and their symptoms and signs might get worse after delivery.

Sarcoidosis Treatment



Prednisone as well as other corticosteroids is normally the first line treatment for this disease. In certain cases these very potent drugs for anti-inflammation may be directly applied to an area that is affected – as a cream to a lesion or with the lungs thru an inhaler. Corticosteroids that are oral affect the entire body and often create weight gain, insomnia, mood swing as well as bones that are weakened known as osteoporosis.

Anti-malarial drugs

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is supportive for nervous system participation, blood calcium levels which are raised as well as any skin problems. These types of medications can damage the eyes, so eye exams on a regular basis need to be scheduled.

Anti-rejection drugs

Medications such as methotrexate (Trexall) or azathioprine (Imuran) decreases any inflammation by subduing the immune system. But these types of medications have their own risk for instance making an individual more susceptible to infections.

TNF-alpha inhibitors

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors are normally used to manage any inflammation linked with rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have shown that infliximab (Remicade) is also supportive in the management of sarcoidosis. Possible side effects can include blood disorders, lymphoma as well as congestive heart failure.


Transplanting organs might be considered if sarcoidosis has damaged brutally the liver or lungs.

Sarcoidosis Prognosis

Some patients may never need treatment particularly when they have no symptoms or signs of sarcoidosis or if it is not troubling them. This is a disease that in the majority of cases goes away on its own. However, patients need to submit to close monitoring with regular exams of the eyes, chest X-rays, skin as well as any other organs involved. Treatment does become needed when function of an organ is endangered.

Individuals having signs or symptoms two (2) years after a diagnosis are diagnosed as having chronic sarcoidosis.

Prognostic factors which are negative in this disease include:

  • Develops after age forty (40) years
  • Being from a dark race
  • Type II and Type IV radiologically
  • Affects more than three (3) organs
  • Locations that include pernio lupus, damage of nerve, heart disease, chronic hypercalcem

Sarcoidosis Pictures

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