Sarcoidosis of the lungs (pulmonary sarcoidosis) often causes a dry cough, mild chest pain, or shortness of breath. Sarcoidosis of the skin and other areas can cause a scaly rash, red bumps on the legs, sore eyes, or swelling and muscle pain. Other general symptoms may also occur including fatigue, fever, weakness, and weight loss.
Because these symptoms are common in other diseases as well, sarcoidosis can be difficult to diagnose. To diagnose it, doctors will generally conduct a physical exam and order lab tests including pulmonary function tests (to test the lung’s abilities), and a lung X-ray. In the X-ray, the doctor will look for enlarged lymph glands in the chest, which could indicate sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis can be confirmed through a biopsy, allowing healthcare providers to study a sample of cells from the affected area to identify inflammation and other signs of sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis usually goes away on its own and the patient may not have even noticed it. In about half of the cases, It heals naturally without any treatment. In more serious cases, doctors can treat the symptoms and help improve the function of the lungs and other organs. The most common treatment is the use of corticosteroids, which are drugs that reduce inflammation.
The healing of sarcoidosis can also be helped by improving a patient’s general health and environmental conditions. Patients should follow their doctor’s directions and take any medications exactly as directed. They should have frequent check-ups so their doctor can monitor and adjust any medication or treatment as needed.
If the sarcoidosis has affected the lungs, patients should take care to avoid poor air quality. This includes not smoking, staying away from dust and chemicals, and taking proper precautions on days when the local air quality is poor.
After the sarcoidosis heals, the patient should continue to have annual check-ups and eye exams to make sure the disease does not return.