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Sjogren's Syndrome

What is Sjogren's Syndrome?

Sjogren's (show-grins) syndrome is a chronic, incurable, autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system reacts against itself, destroying the exocrine (mucous-secreting) glands as though they were foreign bodies.

There are two types of Sjogren's Syndrome: primary and secondary.

Primary Sjogren's syndrome is localized. It affects mainly the eyes and mouth. The eye and mouth glands become infiltrated and dysfunctional.

Secondary Sjogren's syndrome is systemic. It is accompanied by a disease affecting the body's connective tissue such as lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Approximately 50% of people with Sjogren's syndrome are described as having secondary Sjogren's syndrome.

In 1933 Sjogren's syndrome was named after Swedish physician, Henrik Sjogren.

What are the Symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome?

Some of the symptoms are: dry eyes, eye irritation, eye burning; eyelids sticking together, dry mouth; hoarse or weak voice; difficulty in swallowing food; enlarged, painful salivary glands.

How is Sjogren's Syndrome Diagnosed?

There are many tests available to diagnose Sjogren's Syndrome. Some of the tests are: examination of the eyes and measurement of tear production (Schirmer test); measurement of saliva production; x-ray examination of certain salivary glands (sialography); blood tests to determine the presence of antibodies to two identifiable antigens (Ro and La); and a lip gland biopsy.

Can Sjogren's Syndrome be Treated?

The symptoms of Sjogrens can be treated but the syndrome itself cannot be treated.

Medical Complications of Sjogren's Syndrome

Some of the medical complications of Sjogren's syndrome are: skin, nose and vaginal dryness; and damage to the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas and brain. Sjogren's symptoms may level off without becoming better or worse, worsen, or go into remission. Some people may only experience the mild symptoms of dry eyes and mouth, while others go through cycles of good health followed by severe disease.

Children born to women with Sjogren's Syndrome have an increased chance of having serious heart defects.

Sjogren's Syndrome Statistics

  • 1 in every 1000 people in the United States has Sjogren's Syndrome.
  • It is at least 10 times more common in women than men and can present in adults of all ages.

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