Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Preventing and curing sarcoidosis

Q. A friend has sarcoidosis. How bad a disease is it? Can it be prevented and treated effectively?

A. Sarcoidosis (pronounced sar-coy-DOE-sis) can be a terrible disease, but the severity can range greatly from one person to the next. I have some patients who have lived with it for many decades without it getting any worse and with little effect on their lives.

In sarcoidosis, the immune system attacks tissues and leaves little scars called granulomas. Granulomas can affect nearly every organ in the body, but often they're confined to just the lungs. Sarcoidosis is rare. Only about one or two people out of 10,000 have it in the United States. It tends to start before age 40, so if you are older than 40, the small chance that you will get sarcoidosis gets even smaller.

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