How is sarcoidosis treated?
There is no cure for sarcoidosis, but the disease may get better on its own over time. Many people with sarcoidosis have mild symptoms and do not require any treatment at all. Treatment, when it is needed, generally falls into two categories: maintenance of good health practices and drug treatment. Good health practices include:
- Getting regular check-ups with your health care provider
- Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Drinking 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses of water a day
- Getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night
- Exercising regularly, and managing and maintaining your weight
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes, gases, toxic inhalants, and other substances that can harm your lungs
- Avoiding excessive amounts of calcium-rich foods (such as dairy products, oranges, and canned salmon with bones), vitamin D, and sunlight. Daily sunbathing is an example of excessive sunlight and should be avoided; sunlight received from activities of everyday living is acceptable. (The advice in this bullet point is limited to patients with high blood or urine levels of calcium.)
Drug treatments are used to relieve symptoms, reduce the inflammation of the affected tissues, reduce the impact of granuloma development, and prevent the development of lung fibrosis and other irreversible organ damage.
Corticosteroids are particularly effective in reducing inflammation, and are typically the first drugs used in treating sarcoidosis. The oral corticosteroid prednisone is the most commonly used corticosteroid. For patients who cannot take prednisone or for whom a longer course of treatment is necessary, there are other anti-inflammatory medications that can be used.