What is it?

Sarcoidosis is a disease caused by small areas of inflammation. It can affect any part of the body but is most common in the lungs—called pulmonary sarcoidosis. In pulmonary sarcoidosis, small patches of inflamed cells can appear on the lungs’ small air sacs (alveoli), breathing tubes (bronchioles) or lymph nodes. The lungs can become stiff and may not be able to hold as much air as healthy lungs. In serious cases, sarcoidosis can cause scar tissue in the lungs, which can affect the lungs’ ability to move oxygen into the bloodstream.

Risks and Symptoms

Sarcoidosis is a disease caused by inflammation. Scientists believe sarcoidosis is an immune system disease brought on by a failure of the body’s natural defense system. It is not contagious. Sarcoidosis can attack any part of the body—inside or out—but 90 percent of the cases affect the lungs.  When sarcoidosis appears in the lungs it is called pulmonary sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis appears as small patches of inflamed cells. It can cause different symptoms depending on where it appears. On the skin, it may look like a scaly rash or red bumps. In the eyes, it can cause soreness. If it affects muscles, it can cause swelling and soreness. In the lungs, it can cause a dry cough, mild chest pain, or shortness of breath. In the lungs, sarcoidosis can cause a dry cough, mild chest pain, or shortness of breath.


Many patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis do not require treatment, as a high proportion have asymptomatic, non-progressive disease or experience a spontaneous remission.   Others may require steroids (such as prednisone) for progressive disease or more severe symptoms.