Sjogren's Syndrome - Symptoms

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What are Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome can involve the glands, as above, but there are also possible effects of the illness involving other organs of the body (extraglandular manifestations).

When the tear gland (lacrimal gland) is inflamed from Sjögren's, the resulting eye dryness can progressively lead to eye irritation, decreased tear production, a "gritty" sensation, infection, and serious abrasion of the dome of the eye (cornea). Dry eyes can lead to infections of the eyes. The condition of having dry eyes is medically referred to as xerophthalmia.

Inflammation of the salivary glands can lead to mouth dryness, swallowing difficulties, dental decay, cavities, gum disease, mouth sores and swelling, and stones and/or infection of the parotid gland inside of the cheeks. Dry lips often accompany the mouth dryness. Dry mouth is medically referred to as xerostomia.

Other glands that can become inflamed, though less commonly, in Sjögren's syndrome include those of the lining of the breathing passages (leading to lung infections) and the vagina (sometimes causing pain during intercourse or recurrent vaginal infections).

Extraglandular (outside of the glands) problems in Sjögren's syndrome include fatigue, joint pain or inflammation (arthritis), Raynaud's phenomenon, lung inflammation, lymph node enlargement, and kidney, nerve, and muscle disease. A rare serious complication of Sjögren's syndrome is inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), which can damage the tissues of the body that are supplied by these vessels.

A common disease that is occasionally associated with Sjögren's syndrome is autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), which can lead to abnormal thyroid hormone levels detected by thyroid blood tests. Heartburn and difficulty swallowing can result from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), another common condition associated with Sjögren's syndrome. A rare and serious disease that is uncommonly associated with Sjögren's syndrome is primary biliary cirrhosis, an autoimmune disease of the liver that leads to scarring of the liver tissue. A small percentage of patients with Sjögren's syndrome develop cancer of the lymph glands (lymphoma). This usually develops only after many years with the illness. Unusual lymph node swelling should be reported to the physician.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Marta, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 23

I was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome over three years ago. For a year prior to diagnosis I saw 7 eye doctors because no one could figure out what was wrong with my eyes. They were very red, sore and it was hard to see. I take 2 tablespoons of cod liver oil a day and use Restasis eye drops twice a day, artificial tears throughout the day and I take pilocarpine 3 times a day. I chew a lot of sugarless gum. My mouth dryness has gotten a lot better. When I was first diagnosed my mouth was so dry I could hardly talk. I do have a lot of skin issues and use cream (not lotion as it has alcohol in it) several times a day. I have a good rheumatologist, dermatologist and primary care.

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Comment from: Les G, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 30

My wife was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome stage II about 8 years ago. As her condition progressed she became a real night owl; cannot sleep at night and sleeps all day. It's like her diurnal clock has been shifted 12 hours. She awakes 4 to 6 pm, in the beginning of her Sjogren's pains, and takes her first daily set of prescription pain medicines. She has no appetite and will just snack through the night. Her pains increase as the night passes and she takes her second round of her prescription pain medicines, and then go to bed around dawn.

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