Sjogren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, yet it remains widely misunderstood. Characterized by the immune system attacking moisture-producing glands, particularly in the eyes and mouth, Sjogren’s Syndrome can significantly impact quality of life. Today, we’ll delve into the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available for this complex condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome?

The hallmark symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome revolve around dryness, mostly affecting the eyes and mouth. Patients often experience dry eyes, which may burn or feel gritty, and a dry mouth, leading to difficulty swallowing and speaking. 

Other common symptoms include dry skin, nose, and throat, as well as joint pain, fatigue, and swollen salivary glands. These symptoms can vary in severity but are generally quite distressing for patients, who struggle to enjoy day-to-day life while managing the condition. 

How Does Sjogren’s Syndrome Diagnosis Work?

Diagnosing the disorder can be challenging due to its overlapping symptoms with other conditions. Blood tests measuring markers of autoimmune activity, such as antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and rheumatoid factor (RF), can help identify underlying autoimmune processes. 

Specialized tests, such as Schirmer’s test or a salivary gland biopsy, may also be performed to assess tear and saliva production and confirm glandular inflammation characteristic of this autoimmune disorder.

What Are the Treatment Options for Sjogren’s Syndrome?

While there is no cure for Sjogren’s Syndrome, treatment aims to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and improve quality of life.

Relieving Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Artificial tears, lubricating eye drops, and ointments can help alleviate dry eye symptoms and protect the cornea from damage. Saliva substitutes, sugar-free gum, and frequent sips of water can provide relief for dry mouth and improve swallowing and speech, while moisturizers and humidifiers can alleviate dry skin and nasal passages, reducing discomfort.

Caregiver putting eye drops in senior woman's eyes. Sjogren's Syndrome

Treating Sjogren’s Syndrome with Anti-inflammatory Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help alleviate joint pain and inflammation associated with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Alternatively, corticosteroids may be prescribed to suppress immune system activity and reduce glandular inflammation during flare-ups.

Immunosuppressive Therapy for Sjogren’s Syndrome

In cases of severe glandular involvement or systemic manifestations, immunosuppressive medications, such as hydroxychloroquine or methotrexate, may be prescribed to modulate the immune response and minimize tissue damage.

Supportive Care for Patients with Sjogren’s Syndrome

Dental care is crucial for Sjogren’s Syndrome patients managing oral symptoms and preventing dental decay and gum disease. Regular eye examinations by an ophthalmologist are essential for monitoring eye health and managing complications such as corneal ulcers. Physical therapy and gentle exercises can also help improve joint mobility and alleviate musculoskeletal symptoms.

Discuss Sjogren’s Syndrome with Our Experts 

Sjogren’s Syndrome is a complex autoimmune disorder characterized by dryness and systemic manifestations that can really affect your quality of life. Early recognition, accurate diagnosis, and tailored treatment are essential for effectively managing your symptoms and preventing complications. 

At Advanced Rheumatology of Houston, we understand just how difficult living with an autoimmune disorder can be. We’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms, and discuss medication options to find the best solution for your specific needs. 

Ready to find relief from an autoimmune disorder? Contact us here to schedule an appointment or call us today at (281) 766-7886