- Who Gets It?
- Complications and Side Effects
What is Sjogren's syndrome?
Many people experience dry mouth and eyes every day without knowing there may be an underlying disease as the culprit. Sjogren's syndrome typically manifests as persistent dryness in the eyes and mouth. It may be a signifier or cause of other health conditions, including neurological issues involving memory, fatigue, and focus.
Sjogren's syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease that is most commonly characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth, though people affected may experience other less-common symptoms. Sjogren's is challenging to diagnose as dry mouth and eyes may seem trivial and easily overlooked.
Diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome requires cooperation between doctors of various disciplines. To be accurately diagnosed, a patient will need consultation from a coordinated team of specialists, including dentists, otolaryngologists, rheumatologists, and ophthalmologists.
Causes of Sjogren's syndrome
Sometimes your immune system can become erratic, resulting in health complications. In the case of Sjogren's syndrome, white blood cells attack the salivary glands and other glands responsible for creating moisture in the mouth and throughout the body.
If this happens, these glands cannot produce the tears, saliva, and other fluids required to maintain a healthy amount of moisture in the body, resulting in dryness. In some cases, dryness may become so severe the affected region splits or tears.
Who can get Sjogren's syndrome?
Sjogren's syndrome is most common in women over the age of 40, though it can affect people of all ages. Sjogren's syndrome is one of the most common systemic autoimmune diseases. One to two million Americans are affected by the disease.
It's not known what causes Sjogren's syndrome, though genetics may play a significant part. It's believed to be the result of an autoimmune reaction to environmental stimuli that promote the disease as a reaction.
Diagnosis for Sjogren's syndrome
It's challenging to diagnose or complete a Sjogren's syndrome test, as many affected don't realize their dry eyes or mouth are symptoms of an underlying disease. Diagnosis methods vary but may involve a salivary gland biopsy, blood test, or antigen test.
Your family physician will need to correlate with doctors from various disciplines to get an accurate Sjogren's syndrome diagnosis, including dentists, otolaryngologists, rheumatologists, and ophthalmologists.
Treatments for Sjogren's syndrome
The most used medications for Sjogren's syndrome are salivary stimulants like Pilocarpine and Cevimeline, immunosuppressants like Hydroxychloroquine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Some doctors may prescribe artificial tears or anti-inflammatory eye-drops.
People affected by Sjogren's syndrome should maintain a diet rich in foods with anti-inflammatory properties. This will help to reduce dry symptoms and provide relief. Examples of foods and spices to choose from for their anti-inflammatory effects are:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats, like fish high in omega 3 oils, avocado, and raw nuts and seeds
- Organic meats
- Fibrous foods, such as flax seeds and whole grains
- Spices like turmeric, ginger, or garlic
Those with Sjogren's syndrome should avoid red meat, refined sugar and oils, processed or fried foods, trans or hydrogenated fats, and high glycemic foods.
In some cases, an ophthalmologist will insert tiny silicone plugs called punctal plugs into the tear ducts. The plugs block the tear duct, so tears stay on the eyes and maintain moisture. If punctal plugs are effective in reducing a patient's symptoms, the ophthalmologist may suggest closing the tear ducts permanently with surgery.
Complications and side effects of Sjogren’s syndrome
Treating and managing Sjogren’s syndrome is generally effective. However damage to the lungs, kidneys, and lymph nodes can lead to serious health complications like pneumonia, kidney failure, or lymphoma.
- Most Injection Drug Users Are Not Seeking Out Fentanyl: Study
- Cancer Survivors Who Keep Smoking Have Double the Risk for Heart-Related Death
- Canada to Become 1st Country to Mandate Warning Labels on Individual Cigarettes
- Nova Scotia Wildfires Sending Unhealthy 'Smoke Plume' to U.S. Northeast
- U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Another Historic Low
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Family Physician: "Sjogren Syndrome."
Cleveland Clinic: "Sjogren's Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments."
Merck Manuals: "Sjogren Syndrome."
NYU Langone Health: "Medications for Sjogren's Syndrome."
Sjogren's Foundation: "Patient Education Sheet: Anti-Inflammatory Diet."
Sjogren's Foundation: "Symptoms."
Top How Is Sjogrens Syndrome Diagnosed and Treated Related Articles
Dry EyesDry eyes are caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye, but also can be caused by the drying out of the tear film. This can be due to dry air created by air conditioning, heat, or other environmental conditions. Treatment may involve self-care measures, medications, or rarely, surgery.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and non-prescription drugs and certain medical conditions. Symptoms of dry mouth include a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth, cracked lips, a dry feeling in the throat, a burning or tingling sensation in the mouth, and a dry, red, raw tongue.
Dry Mouth SlideshowWhat causes dry mouth (xerostomia)? How do you get rid of and cure dry mouth? Learn about dry mouth symptoms as well as natural dry mouth treatments and home remedies that are safe. See which medications cause dry mouth and discover Sjögren’s syndrome, a common cause of dry mouth.
glycerin oropharyngealGlycerin oropharyngeal is an oral gel available over-the-counter and is used for temporary relief from dry mouth (xerostomia) in adults and children. Glycerin is used for relief of pain and irritation from sore throat and minor dental procedures, and dry or sore mouth caused by conditions such as canker sores, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications, and vitamin deficiencies. There are no reports of adverse effects from glycerin oropharyngeal. Oral ingestion of excessive amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, rash, and swelling.
SclerodermaScleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue. It is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and organs of the body, leading to thickness and firmness of involved areas. Scleroderma is also referred to as systemic sclerosis, and the cause is unknown. Treatment of scleroderma is directed toward the individual features that are most troubling to the patient.
Sjogren's SyndromeSjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and connective tissue. It is also associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, which is referred to as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. Though there is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome, the symptoms may be treated by using lubricating eye ointments, drinking plenty of water, humidifying the air, and using glycerin swabs. Medications are also available to treat dry eye and dry mouth.
What Foods Are Good and Bad for Sjogren’s Syndrome?What is Sjogren’s Syndrome? Learn more about this autoimmune disorder, what causes it, good and bad foods, and how it is treated.
What Triggers Sjogren's Syndrome?What is Sjogren's syndrome, and what causes it? Learn the symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome, how Sjogren's syndrome is diagnosed, and what treatments are available for Sjogren's syndrome.