Sjogren Syndrome

What is Sjogren’s syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is a disease that affects the glands that make moisture. It causes dryness of mouth and/or eyes. It may also cause joint pains, fatigue and internal organ disease.

Who are likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome?
Women are 9 times more likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome than men. Average age of diagnosis is 40 though it can affect all ages and sexes.

What causes Sjogrens syndrome?
Exact cause is not known. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own organs. In this disease the immune system predominantly attacks organs which are responsible for production of saliva (salivary glands in mouth) and tears (lacrimal glands in eyes).An immune attack on these glands leads to decreased production of saliva and tears leading to dryness of mouth and eyes respectively.

What are the symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome?
Though dryness of various body organs is the most common symptom in Sjogrens syndrome, as it is a multisystem disease it can present with varied symptoms
  • Dry eyes
  • Foreign body sensation or grittiness in eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty in swallowing ,talking and chewing
  • Dry skin
  • Increased tooth caries/decay
  • Joint pains
  • Excessive Tiredness
  • Dry nose
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle pain / weakness
  • Red rashes in the skin
  • Thyroid problems
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Heartburn
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse 
How is Sjogrens syndrome diagnosed?
This disease is often misdiagnosed or under diagnosed. Rheumatologist is the doctor trained in diagnosing and treating Sjogrens syndrome. After a detailed history, appropriate clinical examination your Rheumatologists will order for some investigations which include blood tests, urine tests and special tests in the eye and mouth. You may be examined by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor), simple tests may be performed on the eye to test the tear flow. Lower Lip biopsy to look for involvement of salivary glands is usually part of diagnostic tests. It is relatively painless minor procedure usually done by dentist. Special immunological tests like Rheumatoid Factor, ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) and ANA profile may also be usually ordered.

Is there a cure for Sjogren’s syndrome?
Currently there is no cure for Sjogrens syndrome. But early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications 
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