Immune & Lymphatic System Disorders

What is sarcoidosis?

A Answers (3)

  • Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition in which clusters of irregular cells, known as granulomas, develop on one or more organs of the body. Sarcoidosis is thought to be caused by a disorder of the immune system, and can affect people of every age, sex and ethnicity. Symptoms of sarcoidosis can range from mild to severe, with potentially long-term complications.

  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Sarcoidosis (pronounced sar-coy-DOE-sis) can be a terrible disease, but the severity can range greatly from one person to the next. I have some patients who have lived with it for many decades without it getting any worse and with little effect on their lives.

    In sarcoidosis, the immune system attacks tissues and leaves little scars called granulomas. Granulomas can affect nearly every organ in the body, but often they're confined to just the lungs. Sarcoidosis is rare. Only about one or two people out of 10,000 have it in the United States. It tends to start before age 40, so if you are older than 40, the small chance that you will get sarcoidosis gets even smaller.

    Despite more than 50 years of research, the cause is still a mystery. Many experts believe that there are multiple causes, which all contribute to triggering the damaging immune system response that leads to the granulomas. Infectious agents—bacteria or viruses of some kind—are among the suspects, but so far none has been identified as a cause.

    Sarcoidosis can't be cured. Treatment is usually reserved for people experiencing symptoms, and drugs like prednisone and methotrexate that dampen the immune response are often quite effective. That's the good news, but the better news is that sarcoidosis is one of the many diseases that you will probably never get.
  • AHealthwise answered

    Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that causes inflammation and scar tissue throughout the body, especially the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, skin, and eyes.

    The cause of sarcoidosis is not known. It occurs most often in young and middle-aged adults.

    Symptoms may include fever, body aches, swelling of the lymph glands, breathlessness, a reddish rash on the face, painful joints, and numbness. But sometimes sarcoidosis does not cause any symptoms. It may lead to lung (respiratory) failure and heart problems in some cases.

    Sarcoidosis may require long-term treatment (lasting months to years) with corticosteroids and other medicines, especially if it causes severe breathing problems or affects the brain and heart.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

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