Sjogren's Syndrome Facts and Treatment
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Sjogren's Syndrome Facts and Treatment

Sjögren’s syndrome or Sicca syndrome is a disease that destroys the body’s exocrine glands, such as the lacrimal and salivary glands.

Sjögren’s syndrome or Sicca syndrome is a disease that destroys the body’s exocrine glands, such as the lacrimal and salivary glands. It is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s own leukocytes (white blood cells) attack the exocrine glands. It is the second most common autoimmune disease in the United States. More than 90% of the people affected by Sjögren’s syndrome are women. Sjögren’s syndrome can either occur on its own, or can be triggered by other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma. People with Sjögren’s syndrome often suffer from Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or Dry Eye Syndrome due to the malfunctioning lacrimal glands. Infections of the eye, mouth and nasal passage can complicate Sjögren’s syndrome.

 

Symptoms

The major symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth. Sjögren’s syndrome has detrimental effects on other organs of the body such as the digestive organs, blood vascular system, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Extreme fatigue and joint pain is also experienced by majority of the patients. Sjögren’s syndrome increases the risk of developing lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).

Other symptoms associated with Sjögren’s syndrome include:

  • Burning, itching, pain and redness of the eye (Dry Eye Syndrome)
  • Dryness in mouth and difficulty in chewing and swallowing
  • Dry or burning sensation in the throat
  • Increased dental caries or cavities
  • Dryness in the nasal passage
  • Extreme dryness of skin
  • Digestive problems

 

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely essential for preventing complications in Sjögren’s syndrome. However, with the current day technology, doctors often take around six to seven years to diagnose the patient with Sjögren’s syndrome.

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can confirm Sjögren’s syndrome. Doctors have to usually conduct a series of different tests before they can establish a positive finding. Most doctors look for symptoms like dryness in eyes, mouth, nose and skin, changes in salivary and lacrimal gland functions, joint pain and issues with the gastrointestinal tract.

Some of the blood tests suggested for diagnosing Sjögren’s syndrome are:

  • Anti-Nuclear Antibody Test
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test
  • Rheumatoid Factor Test
  • Salivary Scintigraphy Test
  • Salivary Gland Biopsy Test
  • Schirmer Tear Test

 

Treatment

Since Sjögren's syndrome affects different parts of the body, treatment often involves individual attention to affected organs. Pilocarpine is often administered for dry mouth as it stimulates the secretion of large quantities of saliva and sweat. Artificial tears and eye drops containing Cyclosporine are helpful in reducing dryness of the eyes. Saline nasal sprays are administered to prevent the dryness in the nasal passage.

Infections of the eyes, mouth and nose can complicate Sjögren's syndrome, and need to be addressed with appropriate antibiotics.

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Comments (4)

Well presented article with lots of info.Promoted since I am out of votes.

Thanks a lot for your support Roberta...

Outstanding work here.

Excellent informative article. Voted you up.

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