What is Sjögren syndrome?
Sjögren syndrome is a disorder in which your eyes, mouth, and certain other tissues are too dry. This can cause eye problems, swallowing problems, and tooth decay Cavities The hard outer surface on your teeth is called the enamel. The pulp is deep inside the tooth and contains blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria can damage different parts of the tooth. Cavities... read more .
It’s most common in middle-aged women
Symptoms can include uncomfortably dry eyes and mouth or more serious problems, such as a dry windpipe and lungs
About 1 out of 3 people with Sjögren syndrome have joint inflammation (arthritis)
Sjogren syndrome can affect other organs such as your lungs, kidneys, liver, and nerves
Sjögren syndrome may occur with other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system... read more and lupus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is a long-term autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks parts of your own body. Lupus is most common in women between the... read more
Doctors can’t cure Sjögren syndrome, but treatment can help you feel better
What causes Sjögren syndrome?
Sjögren syndrome is an autoimmune disease Autoimmune Diseases "Auto" is a medical term for "self." The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses... read more . Your immune system normally helps protect you from illness and infection. An autoimmune disease is a disease in which your immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more attacks parts of your own body.
What are the symptoms of Sjögren syndrome?
Very dry eyes, which can cause damage to your cornea (the clear area at the front of your eye) and trouble seeing
Very dry mouth, which can cause eating and swallowing problems, cavities, and yeast infections in your mouth
Larger than usual salivary glands (the glands that make saliva to help you break down food and swallow)
Sometimes, dryness of other mucous membranes such as the vulva, vagina, and trachea (windpipe)
Lymphoma Overview of Lymphoma Lymphomas are cancers of lymphocytes, which reside in the lymphatic system and in blood-forming organs. Lymphomas are cancers of a specific type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. These... read more , a type of cancer of white blood cells, is more common among people who have Sjögren syndrome.
How can doctors tell if I have Sjögren syndrome?
Doctors ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They may do tests, such as:
Tests to measure how well your eyes make tears (by placing an absorbent paper strip under your eyelid and seeing how wet it gets)
Tests to see images of your salivary glands
Sometimes, a biopsy of your salivary glands (taking a small sample to look at under a microscope)
How do doctors treat Sjögren syndrome?
There is no cure for Sjögren syndrome. Doctors will treat your symptoms.
For dry eyes:
Artificial tears (eye drops that work like real tears to wet the eye) during the day
Ointment at night
A simple surgery to plug your tear ducts so tears stay in your eyes longer
For dry mouth:
Chew sugarless gum
Use a saliva substitute mouth rinse
Take medicine your doctor prescribes
For your other symptoms:
Use lube to make vaginal sex more comfortable
Brush your teeth and get regular dental care to prevent cavities
Take medicine or use warm compresses to treat painful swelling in salivary glands
Have surgery to remove salivary gland stones
Take NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) and rest to treat joint symptoms and pain
If you have other health problems caused by Sjögren syndrome, doctors will treat them.