From the desk of Brittany Lambert, M.S., CRC, Senior Consultant - Sensory Team
Sarcoidosis is a medical condition characterized by the formation of lumps, called granulomas, throughout the body. Granulomas are clusters of inflamed cells that can appear in any organ, but are most commonly found in the lungs, skin, and lymph nodes. The cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown and symptoms may vary significantly from person to person. Some individuals do not show any symptoms, and in many cases, sarcoidosis clears up on its own without the need for invasive medical intervention. It can, however, lead to chronic complications for some individuals.
Sarcoidosis often impacts the lungs, making respiratory issues common in individuals with this condition. Employees who experience respiratory symptoms may benefit from accommodations that limit physical exertion, such as an adjustable workstations or ergonomic equipment. Providing a parking spot that is close to the workplace may also be helpful. Maintaining sufficient air quality may reduce exposure to environmental triggers. This can be accomplished by providing air purifiers, ensuring that HVAC systems are functioning appropriately, and discontinuing the use of fragrances or harsh chemicals in the workplace.
The skin can also be affected, leading to the development of rashes and sores. Employers may need to consider modifying a dress code policy or providing customized uniforms or personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to accommodate. A flexible schedule that allows for frequent rest breaks or leave time is sometimes necessary for pain management.
Sarcoidosis may impact the eyes as well. If left untreated, inflammation of the eye may eventually result in long-term vision impairment. Employees with blurred vision may benefit from the use of magnification or text-to-speech technology. Periodic rest breaks to reduce eyestrain and fatigue may also be considered. The use of anti-glare filters for computer screens can be effective for some. For those with photosensitivity, alternative lighting solutions could be appropriate. Bright overhead lighting can be toned down by installing fluorescent light tube covers or light filters. Cubicle walls and shields may also help to diffuse harsh lighting in the employee’s workstation.
If granulomas form in the tissue of the heart, individuals may experience cardiovascular symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, and edema. When these symptoms are present, options that can reduce physical strain should be explored. If the employee is typically expected to walk for extended periods, a scooter, walker, or other mobility aid may be needed. Episodes of fainting can be dangerous for the employee, so installing padded edging to desk corners or other hard surfaces could be considered. Telework, flexible scheduling, and leave time may also be beneficial.
Sarcoidosis is a disease that can impact any part of the body, so it’s important to make accommodation decisions on a case-by-case basis. And remember, when in doubt, you can always contact JAN for an individualized consultation!
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Sarcoidosis. Retrieved July 5, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sarcoidosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350358 Iannuzzi, M.C., & Sah, B.P. (n.d.).
Sarcoidosis. Retrieved July 5, 2018, from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders/sarcoidosis/sarcoidosis