Sjogren's syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the bodies immune system attacks the salivary and tear producing glands causing reduction in saliva and tear production.  The most common symptoms therefore are dry eyes and dry mouth. Sjogren's syndrome can can occur on its own when it is called primary Sjogren's or can be associated with other condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or SLE in which case is is called secondary Sjogren's.  

Sjogren's syndrome usually causes vaginal dryness in women and cause the skin to become dry.  In some cases it can affect the joints, nerves and lungs. People with Sjogren's syndrome have a higher risk of developing lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).  

Diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth, blood tests showing a raised anti nuclear antibody (ANA) and Ro/SSA antibody, objective evidence of dry eyes (Schirmer's test) and a dry mouth.  Ultrasound of the salivary glands showing typical feature of glandular damage can be used to help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment is usually symptomatic only.  The dry eyes normally require treatment with artificial tear drops and the dry mouth can result in dental decay so needs good dental hygiene and other measure to try and keep it moist.  If other organs are involved,  immune suppressant medications can be used.  

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