What Is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is a systemic autoimmune condition that most often affects the tear and saliva-producing glands, besides the musculoskeletal system and possibly other organs. While the condition can develop at any age, the first symptoms usually appear between the ages of 45 and 55. Some patients also have rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
What Are the Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome can affect the entire body, and no two patients experience the exact same set of symptoms. The most common effects include:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Severe skin dryness
- Profound fatigue
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain
These symptoms can be very similar to those produced by allergies, menopause and certain medication side effects, as well as other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome. Moreover, because all symptoms usually do not appear at the same time, each may be treated individually by a physician, dentist or ophthalmologist, which can make it challenging for any one provider to recognize the signs of a systemic condition.
How Is Sjogren’s Syndrome Treated?
Currently, there is no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome. The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms and prevent complications, such as dental decay, corneal scarring, arthritis, problems with internal organs. Some options include:
- Artificial tears and tear duct plugs for dry eye
- Prescription medications to increase saliva flow, over-the-counter saliva substitutes, drinking water and chewing sugarless gum for dry mouth
- Humidifiers and saline irrigators for dry nasal passage
- Hydroxychloroquine (an antimalarial drug often used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) for joint pain
- Other immunomodulating medications to treat the inflammation in the joints, lungs, nervous system etc.
Regular dental and eye care are also important to help prevent cavities, tooth loss and corneal damage.
Consult With an Experienced Rheumatologist
If you’d like to meet with a rheumatologist at Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to discuss your symptoms and explore your treatment options for Sjogren’s syndrome, contact us to request an appointment at our state-of-the-art orthopedic center in Houston, TX.