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 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
Living With and Managing Sarcoidosis05/18/2011
This video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—shows how Romaine, an executive and wife, has coped with having sarcoidosis. Although she had no symptoms, Romaine learned she had sarcoidosis of the lung as the result of testing done for another reason.
Prior to being diagnosed with sarcoidosis, Romaine had never heard of the disease. Within about 5 years of her diagnosis, she began having symptoms. Her symptoms started with a dry cough, which became chronic about a year after it first developed.
Unable to speak a sentence without coughing, Romaine began taking medicine to treat her sarcoidosis. Also, she began to focus on following a healthy lifestyle, including eating well and being physically active. By following her treatment plan and making lifestyle changes, Romaine is able to live a full, active life.
For more information about living with and managing sarcoidosis, go to the Health Topics Sarcoidosis article.