Sjögren's Syndrome

Experts estimate that one to four million Americans have an autoimmune disease known as Sjögren's syndrome. As with any autoimmune abnormality, the body's immune system cannot adequately distinguish between foreign cells (like bacteria or viruses) and the body's own cells. It subsequently attacks healthy tissue.

With Sjögren's syndrome, this "friendly fire" damages cells associated with mucus membrane tissue and their ability to moisturize. This causes dryness, especially in the eyes and mouth. It has also been associated with inflammation of the joints and major organ systems, including the lungs, kidneys and liver.

Sjögren's syndrome occurs in two forms, primary and secondary. Primary Sjögren's syndrome occurs by itself without association with other diseases. Secondary Sjögren's appears alongside other arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus.

As to what causes Sjögren's syndrome, most researchers now theorize that certain individuals have a genetic predisposition to the disease. The affecting gene lies dormant, however, until the body responds to some enemy from the environment, like a viral infection. This response triggers the genetic abnormality and the body from that point on continues to attack its own cells. While Sjögren's syndrome can occur at any age, it usually presents itself after the age of forty.

Common Treatments:

Currently, there is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome. Physicians instead aim at alleviating some of its effects through medication (aspirin, hydroxychoroquine and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs]) and exercise.

Also, physicians typically recommend that patients:

• sip water through the day to compensate for the lack of saliva in dry mouth;
• apply artificial tear solutions for dry eyes;
• apply moisturizers or creams for dry skin and other body parts; and
• make frequent visits to their dentist to monitor possible tooth decay related to the lack of saliva in the mouth.
      Other Conditions
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Back Pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Infectious arthritis
Lyme Disease
Polymyalgia rheumatica
Psoriatic Arthritis
Reactive Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sjögren's Syndrome