Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder wherein your immune system attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. You may experience dry mouth and dry eyes, and sometimes dryness in other mucus membranes. Sjogren’s is more likely to afflict women over 40 and is often seen in patients with RA and lupus. Up to 4 million people in the U.S. have Sjogren’s. Patients may experience fatigue, a dry cough, or skin rashes. Sjogren’s patients might be vulnerable to oral thrush.
Sjogren’s probably has a genetic component that is triggered by an infection and environment.
Sjogren’s can affect joints and other systems in the body including kidneys and digestive organs.
Diagnosis is through measuring tears and saliva. The doctor may also remove a small saliva-producing gland from the lip to examine it more closely.
Treatment for Sjogren’s is largely managing symptoms of dryness. You may be relieved by artificial tears, sips of water, and sugar-free candies. New drugs are emerging to boost saliva production or tear production in severe cases. Researchers are investigating whether amniotic membrane can be used to help Sjogren’s patients’ eye symptoms.
You may wish to consult a dentist because dry mouth can impact the health of your teeth. An ophthalmologist can help you prevent eye infections. And a rheumatologist can guide your treatment.