Sjogren's Syndrome

                               Journey to Healing

 

About Sjogren's

What is Sjogren's Syndrome?

Sjogren's (show-grins) syndrome is a chronic disorder of the immune system - a long-term autoimmune disease - in which the patient's white blood cells attack the saliva and tear glands, leading to dry mouth and eyes because the body's tear and saliva production is reduced.

 

What are the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome?

  • Extremely dry eyes causing:
    --feeling of grit or sand in the eyes
    --Burning
    --Redness
  • Extremely dry mouth and throat causing:
    --difficulty chewing and swallowing
    --decreased sense of taste
    --difficulty speaking 
    --increase in dental cavities 
    --dry cough or hoarseness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Aches and pains in muscles and joints

Some also have:

  • Irritation of the nerves in the arms, hands, legs or feet (neuropathy)
  • Thyroid gland abnormalities
  • Skin rashes
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Feeling of numbness or tingling
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Inflammation of the lungs, kidneys, liver or pancreas
  • Cancer of the lymphatic tissue (occurs in up to 5% of patients with the disease)


 Diagnosing Sjogrens

Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing complications. Unfortunately, reaching a diagnosis can often be difficult and has been found to take an average of 4.7 years from the onset of symptoms.

Sjögren’s symptoms frequently overlap with or “mimic” those of other diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. Dryness can also occur for other reasons, such as a side effect of medications such as anti-depressants and high blood pressure medication.

There is no single test that will confirm diagnosis. Rheumatologists have primary responsibility for diagnosing and managing Sjögren’s and can conduct a series of tests and ask about symptoms.

Why are 9 out 10 ( 90% WOW!) Sjogren's sufferers women?

Since Sjögren’s syndrome is associated with a high prevalence in women, sex hormones, especially estrogen, are believed to affect humoral and cell-mediated immune responses affecting susceptibility to the syndrome. Androgens are generally considered to prevent autoimmunity. Studies on mice models suggest that estrogen deficiency stimulates presentation of autoantigens.