These (and many other questions) likely come to mind when you hear you may have something called sarcoidosis. This condition puts your immune system into overdrive and forms lumpy areas of inflammation called granulomas. These sarcoidosis granulomas typically grow in your lungs. But you can get them (and symptoms) almost anywhere in your body.
As you start to wrap your head around this unexpected diagnosis, you’ll probably want to find healthcare providers experienced in treating it. Cleveland Clinic has a team of experts from different specialties dedicated to doing just that. We use the latest tests and treatments to give you the best possible sarcoidosis care and support.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Sarcoidosis Care?
Sarcoidosis affects everybody differently. Maybe granulomas are only in your lungs. Or maybe they’re in other organs, too. That’s why a personalized care plan that focuses on your specific symptoms is important.
Innovations and research:
We research better ways to treat sarcoidosis by testing new drugs and therapies before they’re widely available. Your Cleveland Clinic provider can let you know if joining a clinical trial is right for you.
Skilled collaborative providers:
Your care team may include several different specialists because sarcoidosis often affects different parts of your body at the same time. These experts work together to build a treatment plan that always keeps you at the center of your care. Meet our team.
Our healthcare providers treat mild to severe cases of sarcoidosis. Whether the condition affects one or many parts of your body, we can help reduce the impact sarcoidosis can have on your life.
Not up to an in-person appointment? You might want to try a virtual visit. This convenient way to meet with your providers online is an easy way to connect without having to leave home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer.
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Sarcoidosis Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disorder that causes lumps or nodes, called granulomas, to form. Granulomas are clusters of white blood cells that are “walled off” from the rest of your body. They do this to protect you from things your immune system sees as harmful — in this case, your own body.
These lumps can form anywhere. Mostly in your lungs and lymph nodes but also in your eyes, skin, muscles, heart and nervous system. When sarcoidosis affects only one area, it’s called single-organ involvement. More than one area is known as multi-organ sarcoidosis.
We don’t know exactly what causes sarcoidosis, but it seems some people may have more sensitive immune systems that can overreact to things like bacteria and viruses. And while your immune system is involved in sarcoidosis, it’s not considered an autoimmune condition.
But because many sarcoidosis symptoms resemble autoimmune ones, it’s easily confused with other conditions. That’s why it’s important to have providers familiar with diagnosing it on your side.
What to expect at your first visit
When you come for your first appointment, your provider will want to get to know you and hear in your own words what’s been going on. They might ask:
- What kind of symptoms are you having?
- When did you first notice them?
- Have they been getting worse?
- How are they affecting your life?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other health conditions?
- Do any family members have similar health conditions?
You’ll also have a physical exam so your provider can look for signs of sarcoidosis and check on your general health.
Testing for sarcoidosis
Because symptoms of sarcoidosis are similar to other diseases, we do several tests to confirm a diagnosis. You may have:
Our providers typically use imaging and biopsies to diagnose sarcoidosis. But, depending on where the granulomas are and your symptoms, we may use other tests, too, like:
- Pulmonary function testing.
- Complete blood count.
- Kidney function tests.
- Liver function tests.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG).
- Gallium scan.
- PET scan.
- Pulmonary function tests.
- Tuberculosis test.
- Slit-lamp examination.
Providers Who Treat Sarcoidosis
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Sarcoidosis Care?
If your test results confirm that you have sarcoidosis, your care team will work together to build a personalized treatment plan. Your plan will depend on where granulomas are in your body and how to best manage your symptoms and prevent damage to your organs.
If you have mild symptoms, you may not need treatment. The condition may go away on its own (remission). About two-thirds of people diagnosed with sarcoidosis no longer have it within two to three years.
But if your symptoms are severe or affecting your quality of life, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medications.
Keeping your body healthy can reduce inflammation and relieve your sarcoidosis symptoms. We encourage you to:
- Quit smoking.
- Stay current with your vaccinations.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Sleep six to eight hours each night.
- Avoid breathing in excessive dust and chemical fumes that may inflame your lungs.
We may prescribe medications like these to relieve symptoms and reduce granuloma formation and inflammation:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha antibodies (anti-TNF-alpha antibodies).
We’ll watch you closely when you start a new medication. And we’ll check in with you often to catch any side effects and adjust your medications when needed.
Sarcoidosis usually goes away on its own or with treatment within two to three years. But sometimes it can linger and become chronic (ongoing). If so, your providers will see you regularly to keep an eye on your symptoms and update your medications to prevent permanent organ damage.
Taking the Next Step
Finding out you have sarcoidosis can come as a surprise. But with the right treatment and experienced healthcare providers, you can manage — or even get rid of — your symptoms entirely. Cleveland Clinic’s caring sarcoidosis specialists are here to help you move forward and make that happen.
Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s sarcoidosis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.
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