Sjögren's Syndrome Overview
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Sjögren's syndrome is a disorder of the moisture-producing glands, such as the tear glands (lacrimal glands) and the salivary glands. These glands become infiltrated with white blood cells (lymphocytes) that are part of our immune system. This causes the glands to produce less moisture, leading to dryness of the eyes and mouth. In some cases, lymphocytes also infiltrate internal organs such as the lungs, the kidneys, the nervous system, the liver, and the intestines. Because these infiltrates can affect multiple organs, they can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
Sjögren's syndrome often occurs in people who have other rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, or polymyositis/dermatomyositis. This is described as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. When the syndrome occurs without another rheumatic disorder, it is called primary Sjögren's syndrome.
Sjögren's syndrome affects 0.1%-3% of the population of the United States. The condition is found throughout the world and in all ethnic groups. While Sjögren's syndrome can strike anyone, it most often affects middle-aged and elderly women.
Kanchan Pema, MD
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