Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is a disease characterized by dry eyes, dry mouth and symptoms involving other organs and systems, including the kidneys, lungs and brain. It is caused by the body's own immune system mistakenly attacking its own tissues, particularly salivary and tear glands. While this disease can occur alone, it is often associated with other diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of Sjogren's syndrome is still unclear. It preferentially attacks females older than 40, who also have other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. There are approximately 4 million Americans with the disease; 9 out of 10 patients are female.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of Sjogren’s may include:

  • Dry eyes and dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Joint pain
  • Symptoms involving other organs, such as the kidneys, nerves, and lungs

Diagnosis

As dry eyes and dry mouth are common side effects of many medications, evaluation by a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, is necessary to make the diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome. To assist in making a diagnosis, a specialist may have you undergo some or all of the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Tear test
  • Imaging
  • Lip biopsy

Treatment

There is no cure or specific treatment for Sjogren's syndrome. For patients with mild disease, symptom-orientated treatments may be used such as:

  • Artificial tears
  • Chewing sugarless gum to stimulate the secretion of saliva
  • Systemic treatments suppressing body's immune system may be required to control the disease.

Most importantly, regular evaluation by a specialist is critical to monitor the benefits and side effects of treatments and prevent complications.

Contact Us

To learn more about our services or to make an appointment with a Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist, contact one of our trained coordinators at 1-800-294-9999 to get connected with the best doctor for your needs.

 

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