Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Pulmonary Sarcoidosis

Pulmonary Sarcoidosis

Illustration of  the anatomy of the respiratory system, adult
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What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that results from inflammation. Currently, the cause is unknown. It usually develops between 20 and 40 years of age. Almost 90 percent of the cases of sarcoidosis are found in the lungs and lymph nodes, but it can occur in almost any organ. It causes small lumps, or granulomas, which generally heal and disappear on their own. However, for those granulomas that do not heal, the tissue can remain inflamed and become scarred, or fibrotic.

Pulmonary sarcoidosis can develop into pulmonary fibrosis, which distorts the structure of the lungs and can interfere with breathing. Bronchiectasis, a lung disease in which pockets form in the air tubes of the lung and become sites for infection, can also occur.

What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?

Most sarcoidosis patients do not have symptoms and probably are unaware they have the disease. Pulmonary sarcoidosis can cause loss of lung volume (the amount of air the lungs can hold) and abnormal lung stiffness.

The following are the most common symptoms for sarcoidosis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of sarcoidosis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Who is at risk for sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis occurs in all races and both genders, but the most susceptible populations seem to be of African-American, Scandinavian, or Asian origin.

Diagnosis of sarcoidosis

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures may include:

Sarcoidosis is usually diagnosed by elimination. That is, other lung disorders that have similar symptoms are progressively eliminated, leading to a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.

Treatment for sarcoidosis

Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on:

Different treatments work better for different people. Sometimes more than one treatment is used, and in many cases, no treatment is needed. Most medications used to treat sarcoidosis suppress the immune system.

Treatment may include the use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone. Other medicines, such as methotrexate, may be used if corticosteroids do not work, you wish to avoid side effects of corticosteroids, or your sarcoidosis gets worse.

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