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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Understanding Sarcoidosis -- Symptoms

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What Are the Symptoms of Sarcoidosis?

Symptoms of sarcoidosis vary depending on the area of the body involved, and may be mild, moderate, severe, or absent. The first symptoms are often vague and may include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough

The lungs are usually the first area to be affected by sarcoidosis: 9 of 10 people with sarcoidosis have some type of lung involvement. Pulmonary sarcoidosis can be serious, leading to the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. This complication can interfere with breathing.

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Other symptoms include skin rashes or red bumps (erythema nodosum) on the legs. In about 20% to 30% of cases, sarcoidosis affects the eyes, causing redness, tearing, or, rarely, more severe complications, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness. Sarcoidosis can also affect the brain and nerves, heart, liver, and various hormone-producing glands.

The granulomas or clumps of cells that characterize sarcoidosis may occasionally be associated with high levels of calcium in the blood and urine. Too much calcium in the urine may lead to kidney stones.

The course of sarcoidosis also varies among individuals. Usually, patients who experience more generalized symptoms, such as weight loss and fatigue, develop a mild form of the disease. Patients suffering from shortness of breath and skin rashes may develop more chronic, severe sarcoidosis. Race also seems to play a role; Caucasians are more likely to develop a mild form of the disease, while African-Americans tend to develop the more chronic, severe form.

Call Your Doctor About Sarcoidosis If:

  • You have a cough that won't go away
  • You develop a sudden, unexplained skin rash
  • You experience sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • You experience chronic fatigue or don't feel well

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 31, 2014

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