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Diseases & Conditions

Sarcoidosis: FAQ Videos

To view the answer to each question, click on the question or plus sign next to it.

If I think I might have sarcoidosis, what should I look for in selecting a doctor or treatment center?

Because the signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis can resemble other diseases, the diagnosis of sarcoidosis can be difficult to make. Therefore, it would be wise to seek out a doctor and/or treatment center with a declared interest and expertise in sarcoidosis diagnosis and treatment. Also, because the disease can affect multiple organs, the treatment center selected should be capable of providing a comprehensive plan of care through a team of specialists. Finally, because the disease may disappear and reappear over a lifetime, the health care provider selected should be one that is committed to a lifetime of quality care and follow-up.

Is there a cure for sarcoidosis?

There is no cure for sarcoidosis, but the disease may get better on its own over time or with drug therapy. Drug treatments are used to relieve symptoms, reduce the inflammation of the affected tissues, reduce the impact of granuloma development, and may prevent the development of lung fibrosis or other irreversible organ damage.

Is sarcoidosis a type of cancer?

Sarcoidosis is not a form of cancer.


Can my family get sarcoidosis from me?

Sarcoidosis is not contagious so your friends and family members won’t catch the disease from you.


Is sarcoidosis a genetic disease? Will my children get it?

Within some individual families, the presence of sarcoidosis in a first- or second-degree relative has been shown to increase the chance of getting the disease by nearly five-fold. Multiple genes have been identified that affect the chances of getting sarcoidosis, and it is the combination of these genes that come together to influence susceptibility. Some of the genes will be passed to offspring, which likely accounts for a large proportion of the elevated risk in close relatives. Despite this, there is currently no screening test to identify who is at risk, and the likelihood of any given relative getting the disease is still so low that screening for sarcoidosis is not currently recommended.

Why does sarcoidosis affect African-Americans more often than other races or ethnic groups?

In addition to African-Americans—and African-American women in particular—sarcoidosis most commonly occurs in people of Scandinavian, German, Irish, and Puerto Rican descent. Genes are likely responsible for most of this phenomenon.


Is sarcoidosis more common in certain areas in the United States?

Sarcoidosis appears to be more common in the South and Southeast, but why this is so remains unknown at the present time.


Will sarcoidosis affect my pregnancy?

Sarcoidosis itself should not interfere with your pregnancy or affect your unborn baby. Many women’s symptoms improve while they are pregnant because the body produces a higher level of its own corticosteroids.

However, if the disease has caused significant organ damage, especially to the heart or lungs, it may be more difficult to successfully carry the baby to term and could be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. This issue should be discussed carefully with your doctor if you are contemplating pregnancy.


Is my skin rash contagious?

No. The rash may not look pretty, but it cannot be passed to others through touch or other means.


Is fatigue common in sarcoidosis?

 


Can sarcoidosis develop into asthma or emphysema?

Although sarcoidosis commonly affects the lungs and can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough, sarcoidosis does not cause emphysema nor does it develop into asthma.


Do I have to get rid of my pets if I have sarcoidosis?

Not at all. You do not have to get rid of your family cat, dog, horse, or other pet if you have sarcoidosis.


Do I need to restrict my level of exercise?

There is no need to restrict your activities simply because you have sarcoidosis. If you become out of breath, stop and rest, but there is no reason to stop participation in athletic activities.


Do I need to alter my diet in any way?

Not unless the sarcoidosis is causing high blood calcium levels. About 1 in 10 people with sarcoidosis do have high blood calcium levels. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to reduce your intake of calcium rich foods (such as dairy products, oranges, canned salmon with bones), vitamins containing calcium, and vitamin D. Excessive sun exposure (eg, sunbathing) should be avoided.


Will drinking alcoholic beverages affect my sarcoidosis?

Moderate social drinking has no effect on sarcoidosis.


Will sarcoidosis affect my sex life?

Rarely, sarcoidosis can affect the endocrine glands or the reproductive organs in a way that affects sex life. More often, sexual dysfunction is related to the presence of small fiber neuropathy or other factors like depression.

What are the side effects of treatment with corticosteroids?

Common side effects of corticosteroids include excessive weight gain, insomnia, acne, diabetes in susceptible people, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, osteoporosis, depression and emotional irritability, skin bruising, and increased risk of infections. Your doctor will discuss the side effects of corticosteroids and all drug treatments with you.


I recently was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. What is my outlook?

Most people with sarcoidosis live normal lives. About 60% of people with sarcoidosis recover on their own without any treatment, 30% have persistent disease that may or may not require treatment, and up to 10% with progressive long-standing disease have serious damage to organs or tissues that can be fatal. The rate of death from sarcoidosis historically has ranged from 1% to 5% in various studies but is likely closer to the low end of that range.


A relative has sarcoidosis. How can I help?

 


If I relocate, will it affect my sarcoidosis?

 


What alternative treatments are available?

 


Where can I get more information?

Your doctor is the best resource for finding out important information related to your particular case. Not all patients with sarcoidosis are alike, and it is important that someone who knows you as a whole person evaluates your situation. Because sarcoidosis can affect different organ systems and can change over time, it is important for patients with sarcoidosis to see their doctors at regularly scheduled intervals.

© Copyright 1995-2011 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 11/3/2011 #11866

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