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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)



* Not a rare disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Sarcoid of Boeck
  • Schaumann's disease
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis. This condition has caused me severe pain and I wish to learn anything that might be useful to share with my doctors. Could this condition be the result of working in a hot silk-screen paint shop? Will I ever get over this condition? How can I manage the symptoms?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is sarcoidosis?

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 how the organ works, leading to the symptoms of sarcoidosis. The granulomas can be found in almost any part of the body, but occur more commonly in the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, and liver. Although no one is sure what causes sarcoidosis, it is thought by most scientists to be a disorder of the immune system. The course of the disease varies from person to person. It often goes away on its own, but in some people symptoms of sarcoidosis may last a lifetime. For those who need treatment, anti-inflammatory medications and immunosuppressants can help.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 4/5/2016

What are the signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis?

Many people who have sarcoidosis don't have symptoms. Others may feel like they are coming down with the flu or a respiratory infection. While almost any body part or system can be affected, the lungs are most commonly involved.[1][4][3]

If granulomas form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath (dyspnea), a cough that won't go away, and chest pain. Some people feel very tired, uneasy, or depressed. Night sweats and weight loss are also common.[1][4]     

Sarcoidosis can also cause the following: [1][4][3]

  •   Skin rashes, ulcers or discoloration
  •   Joint stiffness or pain
  •   Enlarged lymph nodes
  •   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
Last updated: 4/6/2016

What causes sarcoidosis?

No one yet knows what causes sarcoidosis. It is thought by most scientists to be a disorder of the immune system, where the body's natural defense system malfunctions. Some physicians believe that sarcoidosis may result from a respiratory infection caused by a virus. Others suspect that exposure to toxins or allergens in the environment is to blame.[4][3] It's also possible that some people have a genetic predisposition to developing sarcoidosis, which, when combined with an environmental trigger, produces the disease.[5][3] Studies are ongoing to investigate the genetic and environmental components of this disease.[4][5]


Last updated: 4/6/2016

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.[2] Environmental antigens implicated include metals (eg, zirconium, aluminum, beryllium), organic dusts (eg, pine, pollen), and inorganic dusts (eg, clay, soil, talc).[5] Some people may have a genetic or inherited predisposition to develop sarcoidosis after certain exposures.[2] 

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?

The treatment of sarcoidosis depends on [1][4][6]

  • the symptoms present
  • the severity of the symptoms
  • whether any vital organs (e.g., your lungs, eyes, heart, or brain) are affected
  • how the organ is affected.

Some organs must be treated, regardless of your symptoms. Others may not need to be treated. Usually, if a patient doesn't have symptoms, he or she doesn't need treatment, and probably will recover in time. [1][4][6]

Currently, the drug that is most commonly used to treat sarcoidosis is prednisone.  When a patient's condition gets worse when taking prednisone or when the side effects of prednisone are severe in the patient, a doctor may prescribe other drugs. Most of these other drugs reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system. These other drugs include: hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran), and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).[1][4][6] Researchers continue to look for new and better treatments for sarcoidosis. Anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs and antibiotics are currently being studied.[1]

More detailed information about the treatment of sarcoidosis can be found at the following links:

Last updated: 4/6/2016

What is the long-term outlook for sarcoidosis?

The course of the disease is variable, but most people do well with little or modest treatment.[2][5] In some people, sarcoidosis can become chronic and lead to complications, including lung scarring, eye disease, skin disease, nervous system problems, heart and liver problems.[5][6] The mortality rate for sarcoidosis is less than 5%.[5][6][3] In the United States, mortality is most commonly due to respiratory failure from pulmonary involvement, cardiac involvement, or neurosarcoidosis.[3] Complications of therapy are additional causes of morbidity and mortality.[5] Prognosis is worse for African Americans, those with advanced pulmonary disease, and those with heart or neurological complications.[5][6]
Last updated: 7/7/2016

Other Names for this Disease
  • Sarcoid of Boeck
  • Schaumann's disease
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.