Is Sarcoidosis Treatable?

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most commonly affects the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes, but it can also affect other organs. Patients with sarcoidosis experience inflammation and abnormal nodules in the affected organs. Called granulomas, the abnormal lumps may alter the normal structure of the affected organ, and, as a result, interfere with normal functioning.

If you’ve been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, you may feel anxiety and fear about your health. However, working closely with a rheumatologist can help you allay your fears and take control of your health.

Here at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center, rheumatology specialists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, provide exceptional care to patients with a full range of rheumatic conditions, including sarcoidosis. In this blog, they explain more about what sarcoidosis is and how it can be treated.

Understanding sarcoidosis

Like other autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. In patients with sarcoidosis, the immune system reacts in a way that leads to inflammation, usually in the lungs. Many people with sarcoidosis have trouble breathing and can experience shortness of breath and fatigue.

Sarcoidosis treatment depends on the part of your body that’s affected. When more than one organ is affected, you may need treatment with a combination of medications. The goal of treatment is to promote remission and reduce the risk of complications. 

Treatments for sarcoidosis

Most treatments for sarcoidosis are aimed at controlling inflammation. Ongoing inflammation can cause scarring and damage to the affected parts of the body. Here are the most common treatments for sarcoidosis. 

Corticosteroids

Your treatment may include courses of oral corticosteroid medications to manage flare-ups. Corticosteroids have a powerful ability to reduce inflammation. To limit side effects, these medications are given at high doses for short periods. Most patients with sarcoidosis only need one or two courses of corticosteroids to control flare-ups. Some patients require long-term steroid treatment. 

Methotrexate

Methotrexate belongs to a class of medications called antimetabolites. It helps manage sarcoidosis by reducing the activity of the immune system. It may be used in combination with other medications.

This disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) decreases inflammation and helps prevent damage to the organs. Other medications that reduce immune activity include azathioprine and mycophenolate mofetil.

Antimalarial drugs

If your skin is affected, your treatment may include anti-malaria medications. While originally used to treat malaria, these drugs have demonstrated effectiveness in controlling skin symptoms of sarcoidosis. The immune-modifying effects of antimalarial drugs are thought to be responsible for their benefits in managing skin-related sarcoidosis. 

Biologic response modifiers

Your doctor may recommend a class of medications called biologic response modifiers if you have severe symptoms that don’t respond to other treatments. Biologic drugs are a class of medications that work by interfering with the production of chemicals involved in the immune response. Blocking specific immune chemicals reduces inflammation and prevents destruction to organs. Commonly prescribed biologics include:

Most biologic medications are given by injection, usually about every eight weeks. Some biologic injections can be self-administered. Your provider will provide training on the proper injection technique so you can self-administer according to your dosing schedule. Other biologics must be administered by your doctor.   

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or need better management of sarcoidosis, we can help. To get started, book an appointment online or over the phone with Valerius Medical Group & Research Center today.

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