Sarcoidosis

Treatment for sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis will often get better without medication. Only a small number of people with sarcoidosis need treatment.

This means it’s normal for your doctor to keep an eye on your symptoms for a few months before talking about treatment options. It’s usual to have regular chest X-rays, breathing tests and blood tests to monitor your condition.

Most people with acute sarcoidosis, which is short term, won’t need specific treatment. If your sarcoidosis is causing you pain, such as muscle or joint pain, a painkiller such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help.

If your symptoms continue and tests show your condition is getting worse, you may need treatment. The aim of treatment is to improve your symptoms and to prevent scarring and damage to the affected parts of your body.

Steroids

Steroids are an effective treatment. Sometimes they can be used directly on the part of your body that’s affected. For example, you can use eye drops for eye symptoms. More usually, you’ll take them as a course of tablets.

If you take high doses of steroids for a long time, you can experience side effects. These can include increased appetite and weight gain, indigestion, heartburn and difficulty sleeping. They can also cause a weakening of the bones called osteoporosis.

For this reason, you’ll usually take a high dose of tablets for a short time, followed by a lower dose over a much longer period. If you stop taking steroids too soon, your condition might become active again and cause more scarring. So you’ll often need to continue the treatment for up to two years.

Usually you’ll only need one course of steroids, but sometimes you might need to take a second course. Only a small number of people with sarcoidosis need long-term treatment with steroids. If you take steroids long term, most centres will recommend a bone density scan. This may be repeated if you take steroids for over two years.

Other medication

For a very small number of people, steroids are not enough to control their symptoms. These people may take other medications called immunosuppressants. These help control your body’s immune system.

Looking after yourself

If you currently smoke, the most important thing you can do to look after your health is to quit. Get more advice on giving up smoking or call our helpline on 03000 030 555.

Getting regular exercise and enough sleep is very important.

It’s also important to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid sugar and processed foods where possible. Drink plenty of fluid to keep hydrated. Foods and fluids contain essential nutrients to help control your symptoms and keep you feeling as strong as possible. 

If you have sarcoidosis, you might have a tendency to develop high levels of calcium in your urine or blood. Don’t take any calcium or vitamin D supplements unless they’re specifically recommended for you by your doctor. You should be able to get all the calcium and vitamin D you need from a balanced diet.

Before you make any major changes to your diet, you should always talk to your doctor or another health care professional.

Next: What to expect if you have sarcoidosis >

 

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Last medically reviewed: January 2017. Due for review: January 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.