Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects the glands associated with tears and saliva. There are cases where the disease affects other parts of the body, but it is not as common. Women are more affected by Sjögren’s syndrome than men. In fact, the disease affects ten times more women than men.
Furthermore, symptoms appear between the ages of 45 and 55. People with the disease will most likely have other connective tissue diseases or rheumatoid arthritis. Primary Sjögren’s syndrome is when the patient has no other rheumatologic illness, while secondary Sjögren’s syndrome is when people do have another rheumatologic illness.
Sjögren’s Syndrome Symptoms
Sjögren’s syndrome primarily affects the glands controlling tears and saliva production. When the disease affects these areas, patients can experience dryness in the mouth, throat, nasal passage, eyes, vagina, and skin. Patients may also have difficulty with swallowing or acid reflux. Those who live with Sjögren’s syndrome live relatively normal lives.
However, there are more significant issues that can occur from Sjögren’s syndrome. A dry mouth can lead to faster dental decay, gingivitis, or oral yeast infections. Some may also experience swelling around the saliva glands, which are located around the face. Additionally, symptoms can appear all over the body. You can find a list below.
- Pain and stiffness in joints
- Minimal swelling
- Rashes on appendages
- Inflammation on organs such as lungs and kidneys
- Inflamed parotid gland
Some of these symptoms are reported rarely but are capable of appearing in a Sjögren’s syndrome case.
Diagnosing and Treating Sjögren’s Syndrome
The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is not known. That said, there are ways of diagnosing and treating the symptoms of the disease. Diagnosing the disease should use a combination of reported symptoms, physical examinations, blood tests, and special studies. Dr. Brionez will use a combination of these techniques to ensure the right diagnosis for the patient.
There is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, so symptoms are targeted to improve the quality of life. Artificial tears work well against dry eyes. Plugging or blocking the tear ducts have also served to be beneficial for patients. Dry mouths find comfort with consistent water drinking, gum chewing, and other saliva substitutes. Patients with Sjögren’s syndrome should also receive regular dental check-ups to ensure oral health is optimal.
Live Comfortably with Sjögren’s Syndrome
Sjögren’s syndrome is a common disease in women and is easy to manage. Patients should give Advanced Rheumatology of Houston a call at (281) 766-7886. Dr. Brionez can help diagnose and manage the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome.