Sarcoidosis Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Many people with sarcoidosis never develop symptoms. In these people, the disease is usually discovered when a chest x-ray is taken for an unrelated reason.

    When symptoms do develop, they may occur over one to two weeks, and usually involve the lungs, skin, and eyes. They may also develop more gradually.

    The most common symptoms are a dry cough, a vague feeling of chest discomfort, and shortness of breath (dyspnea), especially when exercising. Some people develop rashes, nodules (small bumps), or other skin problems. Table 01

    Others may experience:

    • eye problems (usually dry eyes)
    • enlarged lymph nodes
    • muscle weakness
    • joint pain
    • abnormal heartbeat.

    The number and kinds of symptoms vary from individual to individual, depending on which part of the body is affected.

    Table 1.  Symptoms of Sarcoidosis

    Part of body affected Estimated percentage of people who develop the symptom Symptoms
    Lungs More than 90% Dry cough, chest discomfort or pain, shortness of breath
    Lymph glands 30% Enlarged lymph nodes, sometimes causing discomfort or pain
    Heart 5% Chest pain, shortness of breath, abnormal heartbeat, fainting
    Liver 50% to 80% Pain, jaundice, nausea, vomiting
    Skin 25% Rashes, nodules (small bumps), pain, itching
    Eyes 11% to 83% Dry eyes, tearing, difficulty seeing
    Nervous system Less than 10% Muscle weakness or paralysis, tremors, poor coordination
    Musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones) 25% to 39% Joint pain, muscle pain or weakness
  • Risk Factors

    Sarcoidosis affects men and women of all races and ages, although people in Sweden, people in Denmark, and African-Americans appear to be at highest risk. In addition, women are slightly more likely than men to develop the disease.

    Age is also a risk factor. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are at highest risk, although in Sweden and Japan a second peak in incidence of the disease occurs in women over the age of 50.

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