Sjogren’s syndrome is a disease that affects a large percentage of the population. It affects mainly the eyes and salivary glands and can cause fatigue. However, other parts of the body can be affected. This is a common disorder affecting the autoimmune system and symptoms are abnormal dryness of eyes, mouth and other tissues in the body. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, though they are not life-threatening. There is no cure but with proper treatment, you can be comfortable and gain relief.
Your eyes may feel gritty, painful, irritated and become infected. Try to avoid dusty dry environments and exposure to windy conditions. Always wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to protect the eyes against ultraviolet rays and extremely windy environments. It may be necessary to use lubricating ointments or artificial tears such as REFRESH eye drops for the eyes.
It is common to experience tenderness and swelling of the glands around the neck and face. The salivary glands can also become inflamed, which will lead to dry lips and dry mouth. This autoimmune illness will also cause the lacrimal glands that produce tears, to decrease the production of tears and saliva. Lymph nodes may also become enlarged.
A dry mouth can be annoying but relief can be gained by using mouth rinses or sucking sugarless lozenges. You may also experience difficulty swallowing or eating dry foods and feel constantly thirsty. Sjogren’s syndrome may also make you more susceptible to infections of thrush in the mouth. Artificial saliva may give comfort. Make sure to keep hydrated and drink water regularly. A humidifier can give some relief by controlling the dryness in the air. Another symptom is dental decay so it is important to visit the dentist regularly and be vigilant with oral hygiene. There are several toothpastes, gums and mouthwashes available over the counter specifically for dry mouth.
You can gain relief from skin rashes by using a skin moisturising lotion.
Internal organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys and intestines may become inflamed. Internal mucus membranes may also dry out leading to dryness of the nasal cavity. Nasal sprays may give relief. A doctor may also prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The nervous system and circulation may also be affected. You may also experience inflammation of the joints and joint pain.
The symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome can mimic other types of diseases, so it is important to seek medical attention where blood samples, a biopsy of the salivary gland, an eye examination and other tests can give an accurate diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome. Treatment will be directed at the area that is affected. Dry Eye website also gives useful tips on management of Sjogren’s syndrome. There is no known cause of Sjogren’s syndrome but women are most commonly affected. Genetic backgrounds should also be taken into consideration, especially with family members who have previously suffered from autoimmune illnesses such as lupus, thyroid diseases and some forms of diabetes. People with this syndrome often present with rheumatological symptoms as well.
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