Sjogren syndrome is autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed. This leads to dry mouth, decreased tearing, and other dry mucous membranes. The condition may affect many different parts of the body, including the kidneys and lungs.
The cause of Sjogren syndrome is unknown. The syndrome occurs most often in women age 40 to 50. It is rare in children. Young patients usually have signs of another autoimmune disorder first.
The syndrome may be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, polymyositis, and other diseases.
Sjogren syndrome affects about 1 to 4 million people in the United States.
Dryness of the mouth and eyes are the most common symptoms of this syndrome.
Other symptoms may include:
- Itching eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of sense of taste
- Severe dental cavities
- Joint pain or joint swelling
- Swollen glands
- Cloudy cornea
Exams and Tests
A physical examination reveals dry eyes and mouth. Mouth sores may be present because of the mouth dryness.
- Positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test
- Positive salivary gland biopsy
- Positive rheumatoid factor (possible)
- Tear test
- Slit lamp examination with rose bengal dye
The goal is to relieve symptoms. Dry eyes may be treated with artificial tears or eye-lubricating ointments.
Sipping water throughout the day and chewing sugarless gum may help relieve mouth dryness. Avoid medicines that can cause mouth dryness such as antihistamines and decongestants.
Your doctor may prescribe medicine that increases the flow of saliva.
Frequent brushing, flossing of the teeth, and regular dental visits may prevent severe dental cavities associated with the dry mouth.
Arthritis symptoms are commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy.
The disease is usually benign and prognosis (probable outcome) depends on associated diseases. There is an increased risk of lymphoma.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of Sjogren syndrome.