What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your salivary and lacrimal glands resulting in the characteristic symptoms of this disease of dry eyes and dry mouth. This can also be seen as a complication of other Rheumatic Diseases such as RA or SLE.
What are the symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Besides the characteristic dry eyes and dry mouth that define this condition, patients often times have the associated symptoms of joint pain and swelling, swollen salivary glands, dry skin, fatigue and vaginal dryness.
How is Sjogren’s Syndrome diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome is often achieved by the history of dry eyes and dry mouth and is oftentimes confirmed with blood work showing specific autoantibodies for this condition. If the symptoms are present and there remains a high clinical suspicion, then a salivary gland biopsy can be obtained to confirm or rule out Sjogren’s Syndrome as the cause for dry eyes and mouth.
How is Sjogren’s Syndrome treated?
Most treatment for Sjogren’s Syndrome involves nonpharmacological interventions such as artificial tears, drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum or hard candy. Eye doctors may also help dry eye symptoms by placing small plugs in the ducts that drain the tears. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is another medication that can be used to treat the joint pain of Sjogren’s Syndrome.