Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


7-minute read

Key facts

  • Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which cells from the immune system cluster together to form tiny lumps in different parts of the body.
  • Sarcoidosis usually happens in the lungs and nearby lymph nodes, but can occur anywhere in the body.
  • The symptoms of sarcoidosis depend on what part of the body is affected.
  • If your doctor suspects sarcoidosis, they will examine you and arrange for blood tests, imaging scans, lung function tests, or heart and eye examinations.
  • Treatment involves medicines such as steroids, immune system suppressants or anti-inflammatories.

What is sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which cells from the immune system cluster together to form tiny lumps in different parts of the body. These are known as sarcoid granulomas. They usually occur in the lungs and nearby lymph nodes but can occur anywhere in the body. They are not cancerous.

What are the symptoms of sarcoidosis?

Some people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms, but your doctor might see that you have it when you have a scan or chest x-ray for another reason.

Other people have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Symptoms might develop and disappear very quickly, or develop gradually and last for years.

If you do have symptoms, you might:

  • feel tired or lose weight
  • have a fever
  • have swollen lymph nodes in your chest, neck, chin, armpits or groin
  • have a rash made of small, itchy or painful bumps on the head, neck or legs
  • have pain and swelling in your joints, especially your ankles
  • have blurred vision, red or watery eyes, or be sensitive to light

If many granulomas form in a body organ, they can affect how that organ works. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lungs or the lymph nodes next to the lungs, but it can also affect other organs. It can cause problems with your:

It can also cause problems with your:

What causes sarcoidosis?

The exact cause of sarcoidosis is not known, but some doctors think it is due to a problem with the immune system or exposure to an infection, chemicals or dust. It is also possible that it runs in families.

The condition may be triggered by an infection or substances in the environment.

When should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor if you are having any of the symptoms of sarcoidosis that do not go away in a few weeks and cannot be explained by another condition.

Sarcoidosis can be difficult to diagnose, and you may need a referral to a specialist.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is sarcoidosis diagnosed?

If your doctor thinks you may have sarcoidosis, they will ask you questions and examine you. They may also arrange for blood tests, x-rays, a CT scan or PET scan, a lung function test, heart or eye tests.

You might need a needle biopsy, which is where a small sample of body tissue is removed and sent to a lab to be analysed.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is sarcoidosis treated?

Many people who have sarcoidosis get better within a couple of years, and do not need any treatment at all beyond regular check-ups.

If the condition is progressive or more serious, there are treatments that can help. The exact treatment will depend on the organ affected. There is no cure for sarcoidosis.

Treatment involves medicines such as:

  • steroids — to relieve symptoms and prevent damage to affected organs
  • immune system suppressants — to help reduce the activity of your immune system
  • anti-inflammatories — to reduce inflammation

You might also need physiotherapy to improve muscle strength or lung function. Some people may need a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator for their heart.

You may need to see your doctor regularly to monitor your condition.

To help maintain your health and feel your best, you can:

Anybody who has sarcoidosis and smokes should quit.

Can sarcoidosis be prevented?

Sarcoidosis cannot be prevented.

Are there complications of sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis often doesn’t require treatment or may be localised to a specific area of the body. Some people, however, have severe disease or disease that affects many areas of the body. These people may have ongoing medical problems that require ongoing treatment and medical follow up.

Resources and support

For support, visit Lung Foundation Australia or call them on 1800 654 301. They also have a fact sheet on sarcoidosis of the lungs.

Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) for more information and advice.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

ACD A-Z of Skin - Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis most commonly affects the lungs but can also affect the skin and other organs. It is characterised by the formation of “granulomas” in affected

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) | Pathology Tests Explained

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is an enzyme produced by vascular endothelial cells to help regulate blood pressure. It catalyses the conversion of angio

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Sarcoidosis | Lung Foundation

Sarcoidosis is the name given to a condition in which small nodules or “sarcoid granulomas” appear in the body’s tissues.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Sarcoidosis - Better Health Channel

Sarcoidosis is not a cancer or any other sort of malignant tumour.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

ACD A-Z of Skin - Granuloma Faciale

A-Z OF SKIN Granuloma Faciale BACK TO A-Z SEARCH What is it? Granuloma Faciale is a rare benign skin condition, characterised by single or multiple erythematous (red) papules, plaques or nodules

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Other lung conditions - Lung Foundation Australia

Other lung conditions Asthma People with asthma have sensitive airways which react to triggers that set off their asthma

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.