The following information may help to address your question:
What is sarcoidosis?
is an inflammatory disease characterized by the development and growth of tiny lumps of cells
called granulomas. If these tiny granulomas grow and clump together in an organ
, they can affect the organ's structure and function. Overtime, this can lead to permanent scarring or thickening of the organ tissue
(also called fibrosis). Although the granulomas can be found in almost any part of the body, they occur most commonly in the lungs and lymph nodes
. Signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis vary based on the location of the granulomas and the severity of the condition. The exact cause of sarcoidosis is poorly understood. In many cases, treatment is not necessary and sarcoidosis will resolve on its own. However, therapies such as corticosteroids
, immunosuppressants, and antimalarial drugs, are available to control symptoms, prevent complications, and improve outcomes.
Last updated: 4/16/2017
What are the signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis?
Although many people with sarcoidosis have very few or no symptoms of the condition, others experience severe effects that can interfere with daily life. When present, signs and symptoms vary based on the location of the granulomas and the severity of the disease.
At the time of diagnosis, many people affected by sarcoidosis have a classic set of signs described as Lofgren’s Syndrome
Because affected people frequently have lung involvement, other common symptoms include shortness of breath (dyspnea
), a cough that won't go away, and chest pain.
People with sarcoidosis may also experience: 
- Weight loss
- Skin rashes, ulcers or discoloration
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Vision problems, eye dryness or irritation
- Headaches, seizures, or weakness on one side of the face
- Aches and pains in the muscles and bones
- Abnormal heart beats
- Kidney stones
For more specific information, please visit the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research's
website. They offer an information page entitled "Organs Involved" which outlines the symptoms that may be experienced when certain organ systems are affected by the condition.
Last updated: 4/17/2017
What causes sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis is currently unknown. Some scientists believe it is an immune system
disorder that occurs in people with a genetic predisposition
to the condition. They suspect that in people with a genetic risk for sarcoidosis, exposure to certain triggers in the environment (such as bacteria
and/or chemicals) may cause an overactive or inappropriate immune response. This leads to the development of granulomas in various organs throughout the body and the symptoms associated with the condition. Studies are ongoing to investigate the genetic and environmental components of this disease.
Last updated: 4/17/2017
Could sarcoidosis be caused by occupational exposure to chemicals in a silk screen paint shop?
Doctors think that sarcoidosis may occur when the immune system overreacts to an unknown toxin
, drug or pathogen that enters the body through the airways during respiration.
Environmental antigens implicated include metals (eg, zirconium, aluminum, beryllium), organic dusts (eg, pine, pollen), and inorganic dusts (eg, clay, soil, talc).
Some people may have a genetic or inherited
predisposition to develop sarcoidosis after certain exposures.
Since the exact cause of sarcoidosis is not fully understood, it is difficult to say whether a specific exposure might be to blame. We recommend that you discuss your concerns regarding your occupational exposure with your physicians.
Last updated: 7/6/2016
What treatment is available for sarcoidosis?
In many cases of sarcoidosis, no treatment is necessary and the condition will resolve on its own overtime. However, therapies are available to control symptoms, prevent complications and improve outcomes in affected people. A team of medical specialists can help determine which affected people will benefit from these treatments, based on many factors including:
- The symptoms present
- The severity of the symptoms
- If any vital organs are affected (lungs, eyes, heart, or brain)
- How the organ is affected
Treatment options for sarcoidosis generally include corticosteroid
medications and/or medicines that suppress the immune system. In people with certain symptoms, antimalarial drugs may be recommended, as well.
is the medication most commonly used to treat sarcoidosis. It is in a class of drug called corticosteroids. If the condition worsens when taking prednisone or if the side effects of prednisone are severe, a doctor may prescribe other drugs such as methotrexate
, and cyclophosphamide
Last updated: 4/18/2017
What is the long-term outlook for people with sarcoidosis?
The long-term outlook (prognosis
) for people with sarcoidosis is variable and difficult to predict. In most affected people (approximately 60% of cases), the condition resolves over a period of 2-5 years. The risk of relapse is thought to be low in these cases.
In some people, sarcoidosis can be chronic and progressive (worsening over time).
This can lead to scarring of affected organs, eye disease
, skin disease, and problems with the nervous system, heart and liver.
Overall, the mortality rate for sarcoidosis is less than 5%.
In the United States, mortality is most commonly due to respiratory failure from severe scarring of lung tissue or heart involvement.
Complications of therapy are additional causes of morbidity and mortality.
Prognosis is worse for African Americans, those with advanced lung disease, and those with heart or nervous system complications.
Last updated: 4/18/2017
We hope this information is helpful. We strongly recommend you discuss this information with your doctor. If you still have questions, please
GARD Information Specialist
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