Learn Available Treatments for Veterans With Sarcoidosis—the Mystery Disease

Sarcoidosis is often referred to as a “mystery disease” because it’s unclear what causes it. This inflammatory disease affects one Hand Opening a Medicine Bottle or many organs in the body, most often the lungs. When the inflammation occurs, there’s a buildup of granular type nodules—granulomas—that look like grains of sand or sugar. When these nodules clump or cluster together, they can change the way a body organ functions.

While symptoms of sarcoidosis are sometimes mild or may not be apparent at all, some symptoms are serious and require treatment. In some cases, the symptoms can be debilitating and seriously impact your ability to work. If you’re a veteran with sarcoidosis and you believe it was caused by your military service, you may be eligible for benefits from The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  

Drug Treatment for Sarcoidosis

For some patients with sarcoidosis, no treatment is necessary. It’s possible for the granulomas to disappear with few complications. Those people who have mild symptoms of sarcoidosis can sometimes practice good health to treat their disease. By following a common sense regimen of eating a well-balanced diet; drinking a lot of water; exercising; not smoking; avoiding exposure to substances that can harm the lungs such as dust, chemicals, fumes, and toxins; and avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight, drug treatment may not be necessary.

But some people require medication for their sarcoidosis, and these medications are helpful in suppressing the symptoms and inflammation, decreasing any impact the granulomas might have, and preventing lung fibrosis. Here are some of the treatments for sarcoidosis:

  • Glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids—often called steroids—are usually the first line of treatment and are effective in decreasing inflammation. Glucocorticoid creams, eye drops, and inhalers are often adequate to manage sarcoidosis. But because there are side effects with steroid use, this treatment is reduced as soon as possible.
  • Methotrexate, azathioprine, and leflunomide. These are often alternative therapies for patients who don’t respond to or tolerate steroids well. Methotrexate helps reduce inflammation and suppresses the immune system.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These types of medications, including ibuprofen, can sometimes help reduce inflammation, fever, and joint paint, but they’re not recommended for sarcoidosis that has affected the lungs.  
  • Cyclophosphamide. This drug is sometimes used if the sarcoidosis is getting worse despite treatment. However, due to the severe toxicity of cyclophosphamide, it’s only given to patients with a severe case of sarcoidosis.

It’s possible for sarcoidosis or its symptoms to interfere with your ability to work. Fever, fatigue, weakness, respiratory problems, and skin disfigurement can sometimes become debilitating. If you’re a veteran and your sarcoidosis is interfering with your life and work, contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for VA Disability benefits.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska