When diagnosing sarcoidosis, a doctor begins by taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical exam. Depending on those findings, various tests may be used to further pinpoint the diagnosis. Tests used in diagnosing sarcoidosis include x-rays, imaging tests, lung function tests, biopsies, and more.
Your doctor will find out if you have sarcoidosis by taking a detailed medical history, conducting a physical exam, and possibly performing several diagnostic tests. The purpose of all this is to:
- Identify the presence of granulomas in any of your organs
- Rule out other causes of your symptoms
- Determine the amount of damage to any of your affected organs
- Determine whether you need sarcoidosis treatment.
How the Medical History Helps in Diagnosing Sarcoidosis
In diagnosing sarcoidosis, your doctor will ask you for a detailed medical history. He or she will want to know about any family history of sarcoidosis and what jobs you have had that may have increased your chances of getting sarcoidosis (see Sarcoidosis and Who It Affects).
Your doctor may also ask whether you have ever been exposed to inhaled beryllium metal, which is used in aircraft and weapons manufacture, or organic dust from birds or hay. These things can produce granulomas in your lungs that look like the granulomas caused by sarcoidosis, but they are actually signs of other conditions.
How the Physical Exam Helps in Diagnosing Sarcoidosis
To help in diagnosing sarcoidosis during a physical exam, your doctor will look for sarcoidosis symptoms, such as:
- Red bumps on your skin
- Swollen lymph nodes
- An enlarged liver, spleen, or salivary glands
- Redness in your eyes
- Abnormal lung sounds or heart rhythm.
Your doctor also will check for other likely causes of your symptoms.