Treatment Pulmonology

Sarcoidosis
Treatments

Sarcoidosis is treated at the UCSF Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) Program. World-renowned lung specialists, chest radiologists and pathologists work together as a team to design the most effective treatment plan for your individual condition.

The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown at this time. Therefore, there is no specific treatment to cure the condition. Fortunately, in many cases, sarcoidosis does not require treatment because the nodules gradually resolve on their own and leave behind few, if any, signs of inflammation or other complications.

However, treatment is necessary in some cases. Medications are available that effectively suppress symptoms and help reduce lung inflammation, the impact of nodules and prevent the development of lung fibrosis. These include the following medications.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids, usually prednisone, are particularly effective in reducing inflammation, and are typically the first drugs used in the treatment of sarcoidosis. In patients with mild symptoms, such as skin lesions, eye inflammation, or cough, topical steroid therapy with creams, eye-drops or inhalers may be sufficient to control the disease. When necessary, oral steroids are generally prescribed for six to twelve months. In most cases, a relatively high dose is prescribed at first, followed by a slow taper to the lowest effective dose.

Symptoms, especially cough and shortness of breath, generally improve with steroid therapy. Relapses may occur after treatment with steroids has ended, but typically respond to repeated steroid treatment. Patients who improve and remain stable for more than year after the end of treatment have a low rate of relapse.

Researchers continue to examine the role of steroids in the treatment of sarcoidosis, with some addressing the question of what effect they may have on the long-term course of the disease. However, in general, steroid therapy remains the leading treatment for sarcoidosis.

Other Medications

Alternative medications are used in patients who cannot tolerate steroids, do not respond to steroids or wish to lower the dose of steroids. These include:

  • Methotrexate This medication reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.
  • Cyclophosphamide This medication is commonly used in conjunction with steroids in patients whose condition is worsening despite treatment.
  • Antimalarial Medications (Hydroxychloroquine) These medications are used to treat sarcoidosis of the skin and lungs.
  • Colchicine This medication is most communly used to treat gout and is sometimes prescribed to treat sarcoidosis-related arthritis.

A number of other medications are currently being investigated for the treatment of sarcoidosis.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Recommended reading

FAQ: Cyclophosphamide

Cyclophosphamide is part of a class of drugs called immunosuppressants that suppress the immune response and reduces inflammation in the lungs. Learn more.

FAQ: Methotrexate

Commonly asked questions regarding Methotrexate including, recommendation, precautions, possible side effects, suggested monitoring and more.

FAQ: Mycophenolate

Commonly asked questions regarding Mycophenolate including recommendation, precautions, possible side effects, suggested monitoring and more.

FAQ: Prednisone

Commonly asked questions regarding Prednisone including, the reason for recommendation, special precautions, possible side effects, monitoring, and more.

GERD in ILD Patients

Many studies have shown a link between GERD & lung disease, including interstitial lung disease (ILD). The reason for this relationship is unclear. Learn more.

ILD Nutrition Manual

Nutrition Manual for Interstitial Lung Disease including, General Guidelines for Eating Healthy, Body Mass Index, Increasing Protein in Your Diet and more.

ILD Resources

Patients living with interstitial lung disease (ILD) will find numerous resources listed here, offering information and support.

Pulmonary Hypertension and Interstitial Lung Disease

Pulmonary hypertension, or PH, occurs when blood pressure in the lungs becomes elevated, and can be caused by a thickening of the pulmonary artery walls.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation for ILD Patients

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program for lung disease patients whose symptoms are impacting their everyday activities. Learn more here.

Supplemental Oxygen

Find Supplemental Oxygen Resources including, The Need for Supplemental Oxygen, Your Oxygen Equipment, Oxygen Safety, Traveling With Oxygen, and more.

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