What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis occurs when a specific inflammation causes tiny lumps (or granulomas) to develop on the body’s tissues.

It mainly affects the lungs, skin and lymph glands but can affect most organs. When the lumps accumulate within one area of the body, it can affect the way the organ functions.

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease, affecting around 1 in every 10,000 people in the UK. Every year in the UK about 3,000 to 4,000 people are diagnosed with sarcoidosis.

Sarcoidosis can occur in any organ in the body, however between 90 and 95 per cent of patients with sarcoidosis are affected in the lungs

(Source: Sarcoidosis UK, accessed Jan 2019).

Causes of sarcoidosis

The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, although research has linked the condition to the environment and poor immunity.

Symptoms of sarcoidosis

The symptoms of sarcoidosis include:

  • breathlessness
  • a persistent cough
  • skin rashes
  • inflammation of the eyes.

More general symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • fever and night sweats.


At Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care, the following consultants can treat private patients with sarcoidosis:

Diagnosing sarcoidosis

There are a number of tests that can assist a diagnosis of sarcoidosis. These include a chest x-ray or CT scan to detect evidence of the granulomas in the lungs.

Your doctor may also take a biopsy (tissue sample) via a bronchoscopy, where a thin tube is inserted via the nose or throat.

Treatment for sarcoidosis

In 90 per cent of cases, acute sarcoidosis will go away without treatment being necessary, although painkillers may be needed to alleviate pain or discomfort experienced.

Treatment of chronic (long-term) sarcoidosis usually involves steroids. However, in severe cases of lung fibrosis (scarring) the patient may require oxygen therapy or lung transplantation.

In cases of heart failure, a pacemaker may need to be fitted.