Sarcoidosis Symptoms You Should Know About

Women suffering from dry cough

Story at-a-glance -

  • Almost 90 percent of sarcoidosis patients experience it in the lungs; 25 percent notice it on their skin
  • In some cases, people may not even experience symptoms at all. They will most likely find about the disease after undergoing an X-ray that’s done for another health concern

The sarcoidosis symptoms that develop in a patient depend on the affected organs. However, there are common hallmarks that can appear in almost anyone:1,2

Shortness of breath

A persistent cough

Tender and red bumps on the skin

Fatigue

Fever

Swollen lymph nodes

Weight loss


Almost 90 percent of sarcoidosis patients experience it in the lungs; 25 percent notice it on their skin. Meanwhile, some may have it on the eyes or lymph nodes. Here are other organ-specific indicators to watch out for:3,4

Lungs Skin Eyes Other Symptoms

Shortness of breath

Persistent dry cough

Wheezing

Chest pain and discomfort (uncommon)

Warm, tender and red-purple bumps or patches on the skin, typically on the ankles or shins

Disfiguring sores or lesions on the nose, cheeks and ears

Areas of skin that are either darker or lighter in color

Rashes on the upper body

Nodules (growths under the skin) around scars or tattoos

Blurred vision

Eye pain

Severe redness

Sensitivity to light

Red or sore eyes

Tender and swollen glands in the face, neck, armpits or groin

Tiredness and a feeling of being unwell

Painful joints

Abnormal heart rhythm

Blocked or stuffy nose

Bone pain

Kidney stones

Headaches

Sarcoidosis can be quite tricky because it’s impossible to predict how it affects a person, since the disease may target any organ.5 In some cases, people may not even experience symptoms at all. They will most likely find out about the disease after undergoing an X-ray that’s done for another health concern.

Most patients experience acute sarcoidosis, wherein symptoms suddenly develop but clear up after a few months or years. Some of these patients, particularly those who don’t experience very severe conditions, will notice that their situation will improve within a few months or years without treatment.

On the other hand, if a patient gradually develops worsened symptoms to the point that he or she is severely affected and notice multiple granulomas in an organ, this might indicate chronic sarcoidosis.

Diagnosing Sarcoidosis

There are tests used to diagnose sarcoidosis, depending on the affected organs.6 Prior to undergoing any of these, your physician will inquire about your medical history and ask questions on:7

A family history of sarcoidosis

History of working at any job/s that could likely increase your risk for the disease

Potential exposure to inhaled beryllium (a type of metal used to make aircrafts and weapons)

Possible contact with organic dust from birds or hay

Your physician will look for sarcoidosis symptoms and listen to your lungs and heart.8 Afterward, any of these tests may be recommended, depending on the organ/s where initial indicators were spotted:9,10,11,12

Physical exam: This involves inspecting skin lesions, careful listening to the heart and lungs and inspecting of lymph nodes for swelling.

Chest X-ray: It reveals information about the size, shape and location of the lungs, bronchi (large breathing tubes) and mediastinum (area in the middle of the chest separating the lungs).

Computerized tomography (CT) scan: It’s used to produce detailed lung images, making it easier to diagnose lung conditions, monitor disease progression and evaluate response to treatment.

Pulmonary function tests: Using special machines, the tests measure lung volume, amount of oxygen delivered to the blood by the lungs and ability of the lungs to move air in and out.

Bronchoscopy: The physician checks the insides of the lungs by inserting a long, thin and flexible tube with a light source and a camera on one end.

This lets the physician view the bronchi (the lungs’ main airways) and helps evaluate and diagnose lung problems.

Lung biopsy: After inserting the bronchoscope, a small lung tissue sample may be removed and inspected under a microscope.

Other biopsies: Aside from the lungs, tissue samples may be taken from the lymph nodes, skin and other body parts.

Positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: These can be done if the patient has sarcoidosis affecting the heart or the central nervous system.

Eye exam: This is used to investigate sarcoidosis-caused vision problems.

Blood test: This checks overall health, liver and kidney function, amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood and searches for an infection and/or other diseases.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): By examining the electrical activity of your heart, your physician could detect abnormalities in your heartbeat.

Purified protein derivative: This is a skin test utilized to help establish prior exposure or infection with tuberculosis (TB), since sarcoidosis is sometimes confused with this disease.

This skin test often yields a negative or non-reactive result among sarcoidosis patients.

MORE ABOUT SARCOIDOSIS

Introduction: Sarcoidosis

What Is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis Symptoms

Sarcoidosis Treatment

Sarcoidosis Prevention

Sarcoidosis Diet

Sarcoidosis FAQ

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