Sjögren's Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

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The uncomfortable feeling of dryness of the mouth can be annoying. It can also lead to dental problems and infections of the mouth. Many products are now available over-the-counter as well as by prescription for the relief of chronic mouth dryness and prevention of its complications.

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Sjögren's syndrome facts

  • Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease of salivary and tear glands.
  • Sjögren's syndrome involves inflammation of glands and other tissues of the body.
  • Most patients with Sjögren's syndrome are female.
  • Sjögren's syndrome can be complicated by infections of the eyes, breathing passages, and mouth.
  • Sjögren's syndrome is typically associated with antibodies against a variety of body tissues (autoantibodies).
  • Diagnosis of Sjögren's syndrome can be aided by a saliva-gland biopsy.
  • Treatment of patients with Sjögren's syndrome is directed toward relieving symptoms and complications in the particular areas of the body that are involved, such as the eyes, mouth, and vagina.

What is Sjögren's syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by dryness of the mouth and eyes. Autoimmune diseases feature the abnormal production of extra antibodies in the blood that are directed against various tissues of the body. The misdirected immune system in autoimmunity tends to lead to inflammation of tissues. This particular autoimmune illness features inflammation in glands of the body that are responsible for producing tears and saliva. Inflammation of the glands that produce tears (lacrimal glands) leads to decreased water production for tears and dry eyes. Inflammation of the glands that produce the saliva in the mouth (salivary glands, including the parotid glands) leads to decreased saliva production and dry mouth and dry lips.

Sjögren's syndrome with gland inflammation (resulting in dry eyes and mouth, etc.) that is not associated with another connective tissue disease is referred to as primary Sjögren's syndrome. Sjögren's syndrome that is also associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, is referred to as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. Dryness of eyes and mouth, in patients with or without Sjögren's syndrome, is sometimes referred to as sicca syndrome.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/26/2016

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