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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sarcoidosis?

Many people who have sarcoidosis have no signs or symptoms or mild ones. Often, the disease is found when a chest x ray is done for another reason (for example, to diagnose pneumonia).

The signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis vary depending on which organs are affected. Signs and symptoms also may vary depending on your gender, age, and ethnic background. (For more information, go to "Who Is at Risk for Sarcoidosis?")

Common Signs and Symptoms

In both adults and children, sarcoidosis most often affects the lungs. If granulomas (inflamed lumps) form in your lungs, you may wheeze, cough, feel short of breath, or have chest pain. Or, you may have no symptoms at all.

Some people who have sarcoidosis feel very tired, uneasy, or depressed. Night sweats and weight loss are common symptoms of the disease.

Common signs and symptoms in children are fatigue (tiredness), loss of appetite, weight loss, bone and joint pain, and anemia.

Children who are younger than 4 years old may have a distinct form of sarcoidosis. It may cause enlarged lymph nodes in the chest (which can be seen on chest x-ray pictures), skin lesions, and eye swelling or redness.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Sarcoidosis may affect your lymph nodes. The disease can cause enlarged lymph nodes that feel tender. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lymph nodes in your neck and chest. However, the disease also may affect the lymph nodes under your chin, in your armpits, or in your groin.

Sarcoidosis can cause lumps, ulcers (sores), or areas of discolored skin. These areas may itch, but they don't hurt. These signs tend to appear on your back, arms, legs, and scalp. Sometimes they appear near your nose or eyes. These signs usually last a long time.

Sarcoidosis may cause a more serious skin condition called lupus pernio. Disfiguring skin sores may affect your nose, nasal passages, cheeks, ears, eyelids, and fingers. These sores tend to be ongoing. They can return after treatment is over.

Sarcoidosis also can cause eye problems. If you have sarcoidosis, having an annual eye exam is important. If you have changes in your vision and can't see as clearly or can't see color, call 9–1–1 or have someone drive you to the emergency room.

You should call your doctor if you have any new eye symptoms, such as burning, itching, tearing, pain, or sensitivity to light.

Signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis also may include an enlarged liver, spleen, or salivary glands.

Although less common, sarcoidosis can affect the heart and brain. This can cause many symptoms, such as abnormal heartbeats, shortness of breath, headaches, and vision problems. If sarcoidosis affects the heart or brain, serious complications can occur.

Lofgren's Syndrome

Lofgren's syndrome is a classic set of signs and symptoms that occur in some people when they first have sarcoidosis. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever. This symptom only occurs in some people.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (which can be seen on a chest x ray).
  • Arthritis, usually in the ankles. This symptom is more common in men than women.
  • Erythema nodosum. This is a rash of red or reddish-purple bumps on your ankles and shins. The rash may be warm and tender to the touch. This symptom is more common in women than men.

Sarcoidosis Signs and Symptoms

    The illustration shows the major signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis and the organs involved.
The illustration shows the major signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis and the organs involved.
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Last Updated: June 14, 2013