Sjögren’s syndrome (disease) symptoms and treatment

An autoimmune disorder that affects the glands that provide moisture for the mucous membranes, notably the lacrimal (tear) glands and the SALIVARY GLANDS. Sjögren’s syndrome exists in one of three forms:

  • primary, in which the only structures it affects are the exocrine glands and the main symptom is dryness
  • secondary, in which Sjögren’s syndrome appears in conjunction with another autoimmune disorder, typically RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, scleroderma, or SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE)
  • ocular, in which symptoms affect only the eyes (lacrimal glands)

Symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome and Diagnostic Path

Symptoms depend to some extent on the affected glands, which nearly always include the salivary glands and the lacrimal glands. The lack of moisture to the eyes can cause corneal ABRASIONS and PHOTOSENSITIVITY. However, symptoms may involve glands in mucous tissues throughout the body. Dryness affecting other mucous membranes may result in

  • frequent nosebleeds (INFLAMMATION of the nasal passages)
  • PERICARDITIS (inflammation of the membrane sac surrounding the HEART)
  • BRONCHITIS (inflammation of the airways in the LUNGS)
  • VAGINITIS (inflammation of the VAGINA)

There are no specific tests to diagnose Sjögren’s syndrome. A Schirmer’s test determines the moisture content of the eyes; salivary gland biopsy can reveal fibrosis and granulation typical of the inflammatory process. Doctors generally consider the diagnosis conclusive when a person has three consecutive months of symptoms that include

  • extremely dry MOUTH and swollen salivary glands
  • dry, irritated membranes around the eyes and crusty accumulations on the eyelids
  • inflammation of the joints

Sjögren’s syndrome Treatment Options and Outlook

Treatment focuses on restoring moisture to the affected tissues. These efforts may include artificial tears EYE drops, moisturizing mouth rinses, vaginal moisturizing creams, and saline nasal sprays for the NOSE. Dental hygiene is crucial because the lack of saliva fosters the growth of BACTERIA and consequential DENTAL CARIES (cavities). Drinking water helps maintain moisture throughout the body. At present Sjögren’s syndrome remains a chronic disorder for which there is no cure.

Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

Sjögren’s syndrome affects predominantly women, with onset between the ages of 40 and 55. However, there are no known measures for preventing its development. Preventive measures instead focus on minimizing damage to the involved organ systems.


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Immune system / Allergies

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