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HealthInfo Canterbury

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is a rare condition that mainly affects people's lungs, although sometimes it can affect other parts of the body. It is caused by small pockets of inflammation called granulomas.

Sarcoidosis usually happens in people aged between 25 and 45. Symptoms can include:

Some people have no symptoms and it is picked up in a routine chest X-ray.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes sarcoidosis, but it seems to run in families. One theory is that an infection triggers it in people whose genes put them at risk of getting it. In spite of years of research, no specific infection has been identified as the cause of sarcoidosis.

How is sarcoidosis diagnosed?

If you think you may have sarcoidosis, speak to your GP who can organise some tests for you. These may include a complete blood count, a chest X-ray, and spirometry, which is a test to measure how well your lungs are working. You may need to see a hospital specialist for further tests, such as a CT scan or a biopsy (which means taking a small bit of your tissue so it can be tested in a laboratory).

How is sarcoidosis treated?

Although there is no cure for sarcoidosis it often goes away on its own.

If you have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis you may not need any treatment. If you do need treatment it might be with oral steroids or medicines that suppress your immune system (immunosuppressants).

If sarcoidosis is affecting other parts of your body, such as your eyes, you may need treatments such as steroid eye drops.

You can find more information about your particular medicine on Medications for inflammatory conditions, or in the A-Z of medication factsheets.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by community respiratory physician, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2017.

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Page reference: 288920

Review key: HISAR-288920