Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an inflammatory disease. The immune system destroys cells in exocrine glands. It occurs most often in the tear and salivary glands. It is a lifelong condition. There are two types:

  • Causes

    The causes of Sjogren's are unknown. Contributing factors may include:

    • Viral infections
    • Environmental factors
    • Heredity
    • Hormones

  • Definition

    Sjogren's syndrome is an inflammatory disease. The immune system destroys cells in exocrine glands. It occurs most often in the tear and salivary glands. It is a lifelong condition. There are two types:

    • Primary Sjogren's syndrome—occurs alone

    • Secondary Sjogren's syndrome—occurs with other rheumatic conditions such as
      rheumatoid arthritis,
      scleroderma, or
      lupus
    Salivary Glands
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  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    You may be referred to a specialist. You may also be referred to a dentist for an exam.

    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests

    • Lip
      biopsy

    Your eyes may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Schirmer test to measure tear production
    • Slit-lamp examination


    Images may also be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with a
    chest x-ray.

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing Sjogren's syndrome. The cause is unknown.

  • Risk Factors

    Women and people between the ages of 40-60 years old are at increased risk. Factors that increase your risk for Sjogren's include:

    • Other rheumatic or autoimmune diseases
    • Certain gene markers

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Red, burning, itching, and/or dry eyes
    • Dry mouth
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Loss of taste and smell
    • Dry skin, nose, throat, and/or lungs
    • Swollen salivary glands
    • Severe dental cavities caused by dry mouth
    • Oral yeast infections
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Skin rashes
    • Joint
      pain, swelling,
      and
      stiffness
    • Muscle pain
    • Fatigue

    In some cases, other parts of the body are affected as well. These include:

    • Blood vessels
    • The nervous system
    • Organs such as the lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and thyroid

  • Treatment

    There is no cure for Sjogren's. No treatment can restore the ability of the glands to produce moisture.
    The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

    Treatments include: