Sjögren's Syndrome - Treatment and Diet

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What treatment has been effective for your Sjögren's syndrome? Have you made any dietary changes, and have they been effective in managing your Sjögren's syndrome?

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What is the treatment for Sjögren's syndrome? Will dietary changes improve Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?

The treatment of patients with Sjögren's syndrome is directed toward the particular areas of the body that are involved and prevention of complications such as infection. There is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome.

Dryness of the eyes can be helped by artificial tears, using eye-lubricant ointments at night, and minimizing the use of hair dryers. When dryness becomes more significant, the ophthalmologist can plug the tear duct closed so that tears cover the eye longer. Cyclosporine eyedrops (Restasis) are approved medicated eyedrops that can reduce the inflammation of the tear glands, thereby improving their function. Signs of eye infection (conjunctivitis), such as pus or excessive redness or pain, should be evaluated by the doctor. Dietary addition of flaxseed oil may also benefit eye dryness. Vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial, especially in those who have insufficient vitamin D blood levels.

The dry mouth can be helped by drinking plenty of fluids, humidifying air, and good dental care to avoid dental decay. The glands can be stimulated to produce saliva by sucking on sugarless lemon drops or glycerin swabs. Additional treatments for the symptom of dry mouth are prescription medications that are saliva stimulants, such as pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac). These medications should be avoided by people with certain heart diseases, asthma, or glaucoma. Artificial saliva preparations can ease many of the problems associated with dry mouth. Many of these types of agents are available as over-the-counter products, including toothpaste, gum, and mouthwash (Biotene). Numoisyn Liquid and lozenges are also available for the treatment of dry mouth. Vitamin E oil has been used with some success. Infections of the mouth and teeth should be addressed as early as possible in order to avoid more severe complications. Diligent dental care is very important. Moist, warm compresses can be massaged onto the parotid glands to help relieve swelling and pain.

Saltwater (saline) nasal sprays can help dryness in the passages of the nose. Vaginal lubricant should be considered for sexual intercourse if vaginal dryness is a problem.

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) has been helpful for some manifestations of Sjögren's syndrome, particularly fatigue, and muscle and joint pains. Serious complications of Sjögren's syndrome, such as vasculitis, can require immune-suppression medications, including cortisone (prednisone and others) and/or azathioprine (Imuran) or cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).

Infections, which can complicate Sjögren's syndrome, are addressed with appropriate antibiotics. Cancer of the lymph nodes (lymphoma), a rare complication of Sjögren's syndrome, is treated independently.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: danaprov, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 21

I'm a lucky one. I got diagnosed 7 years ago with Sjogren's syndrome after a weird rash, which turned out to be autoimmune related. I had thought my eyes were just tired all the time; I'd kept water by my bed at night forever. I've struggled with digestive issues; I have arthritis and bone spurs in my hands and feet, respectively. I say I'm lucky because I found a lot of helpful information when I googled autoimmune and diet. Avoiding wheat has made a huge difference; taking fish oil and investigating other aspects of my health and eating an anti-inflammatory diet and taking certain supplements has made a huge difference. I want to encourage others to consider making changes in lifestyle and diet- there's a lot of information and support available.

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Comment from: Pam, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 14

I am 59 and was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome 2 years ago, but have had it much longer it seems, probably 3 to 5 years thinking back to the symptoms. I also have lupus SLE (systemiclupus erythematosus), diagnosed 15 years ago now. I took Plaquenil and prednisone for the lupus at first, now I take nothing for the lupus but take Salagen for the Sjogren's and it helps greatly. I am supposed to take the Salagen 3 times daily but it creates moisture for the glands and three times daily makes my nose run too much so I only take it once. I am thinking, to make it twice daily would be good. I am also taking evening primrose oil, coconut oil and flax oil. Fish oil makes the GERD worse, but will try krill and only take on full stomach to see if I can tolerate. Also I stopped all night shade vegetables, white and yellow potatoes, eggplant; sweet potatoes are ok. It seems to help with the inflammation. I try to cut out sugar as I have issues with candida or yeast. I use stevia and try to avoid aspartame at all costs. Sometimes I use the sucralose if stevia not available.

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