Sjögren’s Syndrome is an immune system disorder that usually accompanies other immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. The most common symptoms are dry mouth and dry eyes, resulting from the immune system attacking the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands in the eyes and mouth.
Causes of Sjögren’s Syndrome
Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, and those with autoimmune diseases have abnormal proteins in their blood which causes the immune system to attack its tissue. With Sjögren’s Syndrome, the immune system reaches the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands first, resulting in dry eyes and mouth.
Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome are:
- Dry, red, irritated eyes
- Dry mouth
- Vaginal dryness
Some less-common symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome include:
- Prolonged fatigue
- Inflamed salivary glands
- Persistent cough
- Rashes on appendages
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints
Diagnosing and Treating Sjögren’s Syndrome
Sjögren’s is diagnosed using a combination of reported symptoms, physical examinations, blood tests, and a biopsy of salivary glands.
For dry eyes, artificial tears applied regularly or gels used at night are common treatments. In other cases, plugging or blocking the tear ducts may be necessary.
Drinking water, chewing gum, and saliva substitutes are all used to relieve dry mouth. Prescription medications to stimulate saliva flow are available in some severe cases. Other symptoms may require medications that suppress the immune system.
Living With Sjögren’s Syndrome
Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome can fluctuate in severity, but people with Sjögren’s are typically able to lead normal, healthy lives.
Because of an increased risk of cavities and other dental issues, people with Sjögren’s must maintain proper oral hygiene and get regular dental care. Some rare complications include an increased risk of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes), so regular checkups are vital.
Sjögren’s Syndrome is an easily manageable disease that affects millions of Americans each year. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome, give Advanced Rheumatology of Houston a call at (281) 766-7886. Dr. Brionez can help diagnose and manage your symptoms with expertise and care.
Learn More About Sjögren’s Syndrome
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Early Warning Signs of Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Excessive, constant dryness of your mouth or eyes may be an early warning sign of Sjögren’s Syndrome.
If you have redness and pain in your eyes, it may be an indication of an infection. Contact our office if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome.
What Are Complications of Sjögren’s Syndrome?
The most common complications of Sjögren’s Syndrome are dental cavities, yeast infections, and vision problems.
Sjögren’s Syndrome less-commonly affects other organs such as the lungs, kidneys, and liver, and rarely, the lymph nodes and nerves.
Who is Most At-Risk for Being Diagnosed With Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome usually appear between ages 45 and 55, affecting mostly women and those who have rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue diseases. However, it can affect anyone of any age.
While Sjögren’s Syndrome can affect anyone, older women are most at risk. Women are ten times more likely than men to be diagnosed with Sjögren’s. Research shows that genetic factors may also predispose some people to Sjögren’s Syndrome.
Dr. Tamar Brionez
About Our Doctor
Dr. Brionez has more than 10 years of experience in diagnosing and treating rheumatic musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University and completed her Doctor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Additionally, she completed her Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Texas-Health Science Center. Dr. Brionez is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and has been in private practice since 2009.
Dr. Brionez is known for her dedication to her patients and her ability to diagnose complex conditions. She adheres to the highest standards of medical care while relying on cutting-edge technology and the most up-to-date medical research. Dr. Brionez has adopted a holistic view of her patients’ health and is considered a leading specialist in managing complex autoimmune disorders including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, osteoporosis, and many others. She is fluent in Spanish and is dedicated to hiring diverse staff to best meet her patients’ needs.