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Sjogren's Syndrome

(Primary Sjogren's Syndrome; Secondary Sjogren's Syndrome)
  • Definition

    Sjogren's syndrome is an inflammatory disease. The immune system destroys cells in exocrine glands. It occurs most often in the tear and salivary glands. It is a lifelong condition. There are two types:
    • Primary Sjogren's syndrome—occurs alone
    • Secondary Sjogren's syndrome—occurs with other rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis , scleroderma , or lupus
    Salivary Glands
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  • Causes

    The causes of Sjogren's are unknown. Contributing factors may include:
    • Viral infections
    • Environmental factors
    • Heredity
    • Hormones
  • Risk Factors

    Women and people between the ages of 40-60 years old are at increased risk. Factors that increase your risk for Sjogren's include:
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:
    • Red, burning, itching, and/or dry eyes
    • Dry mouth
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Loss of taste and smell
    • Dry skin, nose, throat, and/or lungs
    • Dental problems
    • Swollen salivary glands
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Skin rashes
    • Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
    • Muscle pain
    • Fatigue
    In some cases, other parts of the body are affected as well. These include:
    • Blood vessels
    • The nervous system
    • Organs such as the lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and thyroid
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist. You may also be referred to a dentist for an exam.
    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Lip biopsy
    Your eyes may be tested. This can be done with:
    • Schirmer test to measure tear production
    • Slit-lamp examination
    Images may also be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with a chest x-ray .
  • Treatment

    There is no cure for Sjogren's. No treatment can restore the ability of the glands to produce moisture. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
    Treatments include:
    You may be given medications to relieve:
    • Dryness
    • Joint and muscle pain
    • Inflammation and swelling
    Lifestyle Measures
    Lifestyle changes may help to relieve symptoms. These include:
    • Exercise to relieve stiffness in the joints
    • Sipping liquids and sucking on sugar-free candies to relieve dryness
    • Good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups
    • Using unscented moisturizers to help relieve dry skin
    People with severe cases of this syndrome are at increased risk for developing cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and thyroid cancer . This is a cancer of the white blood cells. Your doctor will need to monitor you for this.
  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing Sjogren's syndrome. The cause is unknown.

    American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association

    Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation


    Alberta Health

    Health Canada


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    11/9/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Kuo CF, Grainge MJ, Valdes AM, et al. Familial aggregation of systemic lupus erythematosus and coaggregation of autoimmune diseases in affected families. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(9):1518-1526.

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