Doctor's Notes on Sjogren's Syndrome
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects the body’s moisture-producing glands, such as the tear glands (lacrimal glands) and the salivary glands. These glands become infiltrated with white blood cells (lymphocytes) that causes the glands to produce less moisture, leading to dryness of the eyes and mouth.
- The inside of the nose, the skin, the airways of the lungs, and the vagina can also be dry.
- Fatigue and joint pain may also occur.
- Dry mouth can cause symptoms such as difficulty chewing or swallowing, inability to eat dry foods, cracked or sore tongue, tongue sticking to the roof of the mouth, dry and burning throat that leads to a dry cough, awakening at night with the need for a drink of water, difficulty speaking continuously, hoarseness, high incidence of tooth decay and gum disease, changes in taste, difficulty wearing dentures, and cracks and redness in the corners of the mouth.
- Dry eyes can cause symptoms such as red, itchy, or painful eyes; gritty, scratchy, burning, or sandy sensation in the eyes; eyes matted and stuck closed on awakening; blurred vision; sensitivity to bright light; or damage to the cornea.
What Is the Treatment for Sjögren's Syndrome?
Treatment of Sjögren's syndrome is aimed at relieving the symptoms caused by the lack of moisture on the various body tissues. The eyes, mouth, and skin are most affected. Treatments for dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry skin may include:
- Artificial tears (eye drops or ointments)
- Cyclosporine eye drops
- Punctal occlusion to block tear ducts
- Omega 3 fatty acid supplements
- Saliva stimulation
- Lozenges, candy, or gum
- Frequent sips of water
- Artificial saliva products
- Dry mouth toothpaste
- Dry skin moisturizing cream applied liberally
- Petroleum jelly
- Skin cream with oatmeal
Treatment of other common Sjogren’s symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, fibromyalgia, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and joint pain are also used. Along with proper diet and exercise common medications used for these Sjögren’s-related problems may include:
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.