What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome (pronounced SHOW-grins), is an autoimmune disease that attacks and atrophies glands responsible for keeping the eyes, mouth and other parts of the body moist and lubricated. The most common patient group to suffer from the disease is women >60.
There is a primary form of Sjogren’s where the condition exists on its own, and there is also secondary Sjogren’s where the condition develops in association with other autoimmune disorders such as lupus, thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions cause inflammatory responses in different parts of the body that attack the body and are not a response to a normal external factor causing inflammation.
How To Know if You Have Sjogren’s Syndrome
Dry eyes are one of the common symptoms of people suffering with Sjogren’s syndrome. There are several different causes of dry eyes with Sjogren’s being one of the most significant and debilitating. Sjogren’s syndrome may be identified by other symptoms in addition to dry eye that are caused by declining function of glands needed to moisten other parts of the body. These symptoms include:
Dry sinuses and frequent sinus infections
Dry and sore mouth
Inability to chew and swallow properly
Dry and sore skin
Joint and muscle pain without swelling
Various tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome. A tissue sample (biopsy) for analysis may be taken from a salivary gland of your lip. Dry eyes are diagnosed through a variety of tests performed by your optometrist. Further testing of saliva, blood and urine analysis and testing for antinuclear antibodies specific for Sjogren’s syndrome can also be done by your GP. However, you can still have Sjogren’s even if your blood test result is negative for these antibodies.
Dry eye resulting from Sjogren’s syndrome may require ongoing treatment with artificial tears, gels or ointments, punctual plugs or even anti-inflammatory drops.
The disease was first identified by Henrik Sjogren in 1933. July 23 is World Sjogern’s Day, a day to help to raise awareness about Sjogren’s worldwide.