Sjogren’s Print Page
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the glands that produce tears and saliva. It can also affect other parts of the body, including the joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and nervous system. The hallmark symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth. Other symptoms can include joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, and skin rashes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
- Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system can attack and cause problems to different parts of the body.
- In the case of Sjogren’s Syndrome, the key symptoms is dry eyes and dry mouth, but it can affect many other parts of the body too.
How common is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
- Sjogren’s syndrome is seen in about 0.5-1% of the general population. It can be found in people of all ages and races. It is more common in women than men. While it can occur at any age, it is most common around the age of 50.
What causes Sjogren’s Syndrome?
- It remains unclear. Sjogren’s is felt to be a result of both genetic and environmental factors resulting in abnormalities in the immune system.
What are typical symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome?
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Vaginal and skin dryness
- Sore or cracked tongue
- Increased teeth cavities
- Swollen salivary glands — particularly those located behind your jaw and in front of your ears
- Joint pain
I have some of the symptoms listed above. Does that mean I could have Sjogren’s syndrome?
- While it is possible, there are many other conditions which are more common that are associated with one or more of the symptoms or signs listed above.
How is Sjogren’s diagnosed then?
- Sjogren’s syndrome is best diagnosed by a rheumatologist after he/she performs a history and physical examination, and reviews various blood work and imaging studies. It is the right combination of findings from your history, exam and tests which determine if in fact you may have Sjogren’s syndrome.
Is there a test that can diagnosis Sjogren’s syndrome?
- In the right clinical setting, tests can help diagnose Sjogren’s syndrome, but it usually cannot be diagnosed solely based on the test results alone.
- Examples of tests include:
- Schirmer’s test: For testing tear production rate
- Saliva flow test: For salivary gland test
- Blood tests: For checking levels of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and other immune markers (SS-A, SS-B, RF).
I have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome? How is it treated?
- There is no one particular treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome. It is usually treated based on the particular symptoms an individual patient has.
- For dry eyes and dry mouth, the following options are often considered:
- Eye drops that keep your eyes wet (artificial tears)
- Drinking water frequently
- Avoiding drinks with sugar in them
- Chewing sugar free gum
- Ensuring regular visits to your dentist
- Medications that increase saliva production
- For other symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, disease modifying medications such as hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, azathioprine and others may be considered.
- Maintaining activity and good sleep hygiene are important to help with symptoms of fatigue.
What is the prognosis for Sjogren’s syndrome?
- There is currently no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome. Overall, the answer depends on the severity of your disease and which organs are affected. There is an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer with Sjogren’s syndrome, but that can be reduced by following carefully with your health care team.
- Some of the antibodies associated with Sjogren’s syndrome can also increase risk for baby during pregnancy. These risks can be carefully managed by your health care providers as long as they know you have Sjogren’s syndrome.
For more information on Sjogren’s syndrome please ask your rheumatologist.