We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Sarcoidosis FREE

Janet M. Torpy, MD, Writer; Alison E. Burke, MA, Illustrator; Robert M. Golub, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2011;305(4):423. doi:10.1001/jama.305.4.423.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that usually affects the lungs, causing granulomas (inflammatory nodules). However, it can affect other organs, including the heart, liver, lymph nodes, skin, and eyes. Its symptoms vary depending on the areas of the body affected. Sometimes sarcoidosis is found incidentally, such as when a chest x-ray is taken for another reason. Although the cause is not known, it is thought that there is a genetic (inherited) tendency to develop an immune reaction when exposed to certain particles, which may result in organ damage. Sarcoidosis is not contagious, but proteins from certain bacteria may be involved in triggering the reaction. The January 26, 2011, issue of JAMA includes an article about sarcoidosis. This Patient Page is based on one previously published in the November 1, 2006, issue of JAMA.


  • Although sarcoidosis occurs in individuals throughout the world, in the United States it is more common in African American than in white persons. Women are at greater risk than men.

  • In most persons, sarcoidosis can improve on its own, but in about one-third it becomes chronic.

  • Some individuals with sarcoidosis have no symptoms, yet others can be severely ill with multiple organ systems involved.

  • Symptoms of sarcoidosis vary and can include generalized fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, dry cough, raised bumps on the shins (erythema nodosum), or unexplained fever. Persons who have heart involvement can have abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure. Brain involvement may cause changes in memory or mental acuity or strokelike symptoms. Sarcoidosis of the eyes (uveitis, with reddened or watery eyes) may lead to significant vision loss if untreated.


  • Chest x-ray may reveal scarring or granuloma formation in the lungs.

  • Breathing studies, such as spirometry, may reveal restriction in breathing capacity.

  • Blood testing, computed tomography (CT scan), electrocardiogram, detailed eye examinations, biopsies or tissue sampling, and other testing may be required to look for involvement of organs besides the lungs.

  • Although the risk of developing sarcoidosis is increased if a close family member carries the diagnosis, the risk is still very low, and screening healthy relatives for sarcoidosis is not warranted.


There is no known cure, and treatment is based on an individual's symptoms and the degree to which involved organs are affected. Sometimes no treatment is necessary. Prednisone, an oral form of steroid, is usually the first treatment offered. Some individuals cannot tolerate the side effects of steroids, which can include high blood pressure, weight gain, thinning of the skin, osteoporosis (thin bones), and elevated blood glucose. Other medications may be prescribed, including medications that suppress the immune system and that decrease inflammation. Associated conditions such as fatigue, depression, hypercalcemia (increased calcium levels in the blood), kidney stones, and pulmonary hypertension (elevated vascular pressures in the lungs, which can adversely affect breathing and heart function) may require specialized attention.



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page Index on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on lung transplantation was published in the December 15, 2010, issue of JAMA.

Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Lung Association

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Spanish Patient Pages
Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles