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Sjögren's syndrome (say "SHOH-grins") is a disease in which the immune system attacks the glands that make moisture for the body, such as tears and saliva. The damage keeps the glands from working the way they should and makes your eyes and mouth dry.
The disease may also cause other problems, such as fatigue and pain in the joints. In rare cases, it can damage the lungs, kidneys, and nerves.
Anyone can get Sjögren's, but it's most common in white women who are in their 40s and 50s.
Doctors don't know what causes Sjögren's syndrome, but it tends to run in families. It may also occur along with other health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.
The most common symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome are very dry eyes and mouth that last for at least 3 months and are not caused by medicines. You may have itching and burning in your eyes. Your mouth may feel very dry, as though it is full of cotton.
Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she will also ask about any medicines you're taking that could cause dry eyes and mouth. If needed, you may also have tests to:
Your treatment for Sjögren's syndrome will depend on how the disease affects you over time. In most cases, treatment will focus on helping you control your symptoms.
Using artificial teardrops, mouth lubricants, and saliva substitutes can help moisten your eyes, mouth, and throat. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines such as:
Stronger medicines may be recommended if these treatments do not control your symptoms.
There are also many things you can do at home to manage symptoms.
Learning about Sjögren's syndrome:
Living with Sjögren's syndrome:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is the leading
U.S. federal government agency supporting research on brain and nervous system
disorders. It provides the public with educational materials and information
about these disorders.
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the
Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP, a division of ACR) are
professional organizations of rheumatologists and associated health
professionals who are dedicated to healing, preventing disability from, and
curing the many types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal
disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members of the ACR are physicians;
members of the ARHP include research scientists, nurses, physical and
occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. Both the ACR and
the ARHP provide professional education for their members.
website offers patient information fact sheets about rheumatic diseases, about
medicines used to treat rheumatic diseases, and about care
As part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Eye
Institute provides information on eye diseases and vision research.
Publications are available to the public at no charge. The Web site includes
links to various information resources.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
is a governmental agency that provides information about oral, dental, and
craniofacial health. By conducting and supporting research, the NIDCR aims to
promote health, prevent diseases and conditions, and develop new diagnostics
This nonprofit foundation educates both health
professionals and people with Sjögren's syndrome about the disease. It also
produces and distributes educational materials, including The Moisture Seekers newsletter, handbooks, videos, and medical
articles. A network of chapters, support groups, and contacts organizes
meetings, participates in health fairs, increases awareness in communities,
and promotes local media campaigns. The foundation sponsors educational
programs, symposia, and workshops, and advocates for research and treatment centers.
Other Works Consulted
Jonsson R, et al. (2005). Sjögren's syndrome. In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions: A Textbook of Rheumatology, 15th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1681–1705. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Ramos-Casals M, et al. (2010). Treatment of primary Sjogren's syndrome. JAMA, 304(4): 452–460.
April 27, 2012
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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