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Diseases reference index «Sjogren syndrome»

Sjogren syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed. The condition may affect many different parts of the body, including the kidneys and lungs.

Causes

The cause of Sjogren syndrome is unknown. The syndrome occurs most often in women ages 40 - 50. It is rare in children. Young patients usually have signs of another autoimmune disorder first.

The syndrome may be associated with:

  • Polymyositis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Sjogren syndrome affects about 1 - 4 million people in the United States.

Symptoms

Dryness of the mouth and eyes are the most common symptoms of this syndrome.

Eye symptoms:

  • Itching eyes
  • Feeling that something is in the eye

Mouth and throat symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing or eating
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Mouth sores or pain
  • Hoarseness

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Change in the color of hands or feet
  • Joint pain or joint swelling
  • Swollen glands

Exams and Tests

A physical examination reveals dry eyes and mouth. There may be mouth sores because of the mouth dryness.

Tests:

  • Schirmer's test
  • Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test
  • Salivary gland biopsy
  • Rheumatoid factor (possible)
  • Tear test
  • Slit lamp examination with rose bengal dye

Treatment

The goal is to relieve symptoms. Dry eyes may be treated with artificial tears, eye-lubricating ointments, or cyclosoporine liquid. Tiny plugs can be placed in the tear drainage ducts to help the tears stay on the surface of the eye.

Disease modifying drugs (DMARDs) similar to those used for rheumatoid arthritis may improve the symptoms of Sjogren syndrome. These include tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibiting drugs.

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. Avoid alcohol.

Talk with your dentist about:

  • Solutions to replace minerals in your teeth
  • Saliva substitutes
  • Drugs that help your salivary glands make more saliva

Frequent brushing and flossing of the teeth, and regular dental visits may prevent severe dental cavities caused by dry mouth.

Arthritis symptoms are commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The disease is usually not life-threatening. The outcome depends on what other diseases you have.

There is an increased risk of lymphoma.

Possible Complications

  • Kidney failure (rare)
  • Lymphoma
  • Pulmonary infection
  • Vasculitis (rare)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of Sjogren syndrome.

Alternative Names

Xerostomia-Sjogren syndrome; Keratoconjunctivitis sicca-Sjogren's

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