What is Sjogren’s syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is a common autoimmune disorder that attacks moisture-producing glands of the body, such as the glands that produce tears and saliva. In an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. In Sjogren’s syndrome, inflammation caused by this attack affects the glands’ ability to secrete moisture and mucus normally.
Sjogren’s syndrome can affect the glands in the eyes, mouth, throat, nose, airways, skin, digestive system, and vagina. In some cases, Sjogren’s syndrome can attack areas throughout the body, such as the lungs, kidneys, joints, blood vessels, and nervous system.
Symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome are due to abnormal dryness of the affected glands and organs. Typical symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include dry eye, dry cough, dry mouth, and poor oral and dental health.
There are two types of Sjogren’s syndrome, primary and secondary. Primary Sjogren’s syndrome occurs in the absence of other autoimmune disorders. Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome occurs with other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and is generally more serious than primary Sjogren’s syndrome. Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome is more likely than primary Sjogren’s syndrome to lead to complications.
Sjogren’s syndrome cannot be cured, but it can be treated to minimize symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Treatment can include a combination of medication, good oral hygiene, and possibly surgery.
Serious complications, such as liver disease and lung disease, can occur with Sjogren’s syndrome, especially secondary Sjogren’s syndrome.
Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, such as dry mouth and dry cough. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of complications.
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- Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.
- About Sjogren’s Syndrome. Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. http://www.sjogrens.org.
- NINDS Sjögren's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sjogrens/sjogrens.htm.
- Sjögren's Syndrome. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sjogrenssyndrome.html.
- Sjögren's Syndrome. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niam