Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) syndrome is a disorder of your immune system identified by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth.
Sjogren's syndrome often accompanies other immune-system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In Sjogren's syndrome, the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first — resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva.
Although you can develop Sjogren's syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at the time of diagnosis. The condition is much more common in women. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, which often subside with time.
The two main symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome are:
Some people with Sjogren's syndrome also experience one or more of the following:
You have three pairs of major salivary glands — parotid, sublingual and submandibular. Each gland has its own tube (duct) leading from the gland to the mouth. ...
Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. This means that your immune system mistakenly attacks your body's own cells and tissues.
Scientists aren't certain why some people develop Sjogren's syndrome and others don't. Certain genes put people at higher risk for the disorder, but it appears that a triggering mechanism — such as infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria — is also necessary.
In Sjogren's syndrome, your immune system first targets the moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth. But it can also damage other parts of your body, such as your:
Although anyone can develop Sjogren's syndrome, it typically occurs in people with one or more known risk factors. These include:
The most common complications of Sjogren's syndrome involve your eyes and mouth.
Less common complications may affect your:
Preparing for your appointment
You may initially bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, your dentist or your eye doctor. However, you may eventually be referred to a rheumatologist — a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions — for diagnosis and treatment.
What you can do
For Sjogren's syndrome, some basic questions you may want to ask your doctor include:
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Sjogren's syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms vary from person to person and can be similar to those caused by other diseases. Side effects of a number of medications also mimic some signs and symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome.
A variety of tests can help rule out other conditions and help pinpoint a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome.
Treatments and drugs
Many people can manage the dry eye and dry mouth associated with Sjogren's syndrome by using over-the-counter eyedrops and sipping water more frequently. But some people may need prescription medications, or even surgery.Medications
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest medications that:
To relieve dry eyes, you may consider undergoing a minor surgical procedure to seal the tear ducts that drain tears from your eyes (punctal occlusion). Collagen or silicone plugs are inserted into the ducts for a temporary closure. Collagen plugs eventually dissolve, but silicone plugs stay in place until they fall out or are removed. Alternatively, your doctor may use a laser to permanently seal your tear ducts.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Many symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome respond well to self-care measures.
To relieve dry eyes:
To help with dry mouth:
Other areas of dryness
Last Updated: 2011-08-06
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