Sarcoidosis symptoms often get better on their own gradually without treatment.
Severely affected patients may need treatment with corticosteroids (prednisone or methylprednisolone). This includes people who have involvement of the eyes, heart, nervous system, and some with lung involvement. Therapy may continue for 1 or 2 years. Some of the most severely affected patients may require life-long therapy.
Drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressive medicines), such as methotrexate, azathioprine, and cyclophosphamide, are sometimes used in addition to corticosteroids. Rarely, some people with irreversible organ failure require an organ transplant.
Although these treatments may temporarily improve the symptoms of the disease, long-term treatment has not been proven to prevent sarcoidosis from slowly getting worse.
Many people are not seriously ill, and the disease may get better without treatment. About 30 – 50% of cases get better without treatment in 3 years. About 20% of those whose lungs are involved will develop lung damage.
The overall death rate from sarcoidosis is less than 5%. Causes of death include:
- Scarring of lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
- Bleeding from the lung tissue
- Involvement of the heart (rarely)
- Osteoporosis and other complications of taking corticosteroids for longer periods of time.
- Diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Fungal lung infections (aspergilloma)
- Anterior uveitis
- Glaucoma and blindness (rare)
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Cranial or peripheral nerve palsies
- High calcium levels (hypercalcemia)
- Kidney stones
- Organ failure, leading to the need for a transplant
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Difficulty breathing
- Vision changes
- Other symptoms of this disorder
Review Date : 5/21/2009
Reviewed By : Allen J. Blaivas, D.O., Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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