How Will Doctors Treat My Sarcoidosis?
Your doctor will choose your treatment based on your symptoms.Whether you need treatment and what type of treatment you need depend on your signs and symptoms, which organs are affected, and whether those organs are working well.
Some people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms. Doctors call no symptoms “asymptomatic”. If you have no symptoms, you probably won’t need treatment. You do need to get regular check-ups, to make sure the sarcoidosis isn’t getting worse.
If you have mild sarcoidosis, you may not get any treatment. Your granulomas (lumps) may stop growing or shrink. Your symptoms may disappear on their own after a few years.
If you have moderate sarcoidosis, the granulomas (lumps) may stay the same over time: they won’t disappear and they won’t grow any bigger. Some people with moderate sarcoidosis have symptoms all the time, and take medicine every day. Other people with moderate sarcoidosis have symptoms that come and go. They only take medicine when the have symptoms.
If you have severe sarcoidosis, your symptoms can slowly get worse over the years. You can develop permanent organ damage. Treatment can help, but it can’t take away the damage to your lungs, skin, eyes or other organs. You will get more intensive treatment. If you have a lot of damage to your organs, you may need a transplant.
What Are the Main Treatments for Sarcoidosis?
Many people with sarcoidosis improve on their own, without treatment.
Corticosteroids is the main treatment for sarcoidosis. This medication reduce inflammation (swelling). Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about side effects of corticosteroids.
For people with severe sarcoidosis, doctors may prescribe medicines that may suppress (weaken) your immune system. These include, methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran®, or a generic version), chlorambucil (Leukeran®).
Another medicine that is sometimes used to treat sarcoidosis is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®, or a generic version). They are used to treat the hypercalcemia seen with sarcoidosis.
If you’re taking these medicines, your doctor, dentist and eye doctor must watch you carefully. Doctors will do blood tests regularly, and may also test your kidneys, heart and liver. You will have to watch your health carefully, and do your best to avoid germs. And you must tell your doctor right away if you notice any new or unusual symptoms.
Other Treatments for Sarcoidosis
- People with severe sarcoidosis may get other treatments.
- People with lung scarring (pulmonary fibrosis) may be prescribed oxygen to help them breathe easier. They breathe extra oxygen from a tank or a machine called an oxygen concentrator.
- People with serious damage to their lungs, heart or kidneys may get a transplant. Transplants are rare. They are only given to certain patients.
- People with heart problems may get a pacemaker put in their chest. A pacemaker is a machine that helps your heart beat in a steady rhythm.