Information for Patients
Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks parts of your own body by mistake. In Sjogren's syndrome, it attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. This causes a dry mouth and dry eyes. You may have dryness in other places that need moisture, such as your nose, throat, and skin. Sjogren's can also affect other parts of the body, including your joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, and nerves.
Most people with Sjogren's syndrome are women. It usually starts after age 40. It is sometimes linked to other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
To make a diagnosis, doctors may use a medical history, physical exam, certain eye and mouth tests, blood tests, and biopsies.
Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms. It can differ for each person; it depends on what parts of the body are affected. It may include artificial tears for dye eyes and sucking on sugar-free candy or drinking water often for a dry mouth. Medicines may help with severe symptoms.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Sjögren syndrome Sjögren syndrome is a disorder whose main features are dry eyes and a dry mouth. The condition typically develops gradually beginning in middle adulthood, but it can occur at any age.Sjögren syndrome is classified as an autoimmune disorder, one of a large group of conditions that occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs. In Sjögren syndrome, the immune system primarily attacks the glands that produce tears (the lacrimal glands) and saliva (the salivary glands), impairing the glands' ability to secrete these fluids.Dry eyes may lead to itching, burning, a feeling of sand in the eyes, blurry vision, or intolerance of bright or fluorescent lighting. A dry mouth can feel chalky or full of cotton, and affected individuals may have difficulty speaking, tasting food, or swallowing. Because saliva helps protect the teeth and the tissues of the oral cavity, people with Sjögren syndrome are at increased risk of tooth decay and infections in the mouth.In most people with Sjögren syndrome, dry eyes and dry mouth are the primary features of the disorder, and general health and life expectancy are largely unaffected. However, in some cases the immune system also attacks and damages other organs and tissues. This complication is known as extraglandular involvement. Affected individuals may develop inflammation in connective tissues, which provide strength and flexibility to structures throughout the body. Disorders involving connective tissue inflammation are sometimes called rheumatic conditions. In Sjögren syndrome, extraglandular involvement may result in painful inflammation of the joints and muscles; dry, itchy skin and skin rashes; chronic cough; a hoarse voice; kidney and liver problems; numbness or tingling in the hands and feet; and, in women, vaginal dryness. Prolonged and extreme tiredness (fatigue) severe enough to affect activities of daily living may also occur in this disorder. A small number of people with Sjögren syndrome develop lymphoma, a blood-related cancer that causes tumor formation in the lymph nodes.Some individuals who are first diagnosed with another rheumatic disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, later develop the dry eyes and dry mouth characteristic of Sjögren syndrome. Other autoimmune disorders can also develop after the onset of Sjögren syndrome. In all, about half of all individuals with Sjögren syndrome also have another autoimmune disorder.