Sjogren's syndrome affects an estimated 1 million to 4 million people in the United States and is often defined by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth. Yet Sjogren's is more than a symptoms. It's an autoimmune disease that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis. These rheumatic diseases are marked by inflammation of your connective tissues, and it's common for people with Sjogren's syndrome to also have a connective tissue disorder. Sjogren's that results from a rheumatic condition is classified as secondary Sjogren's syndrome. Primary Sjogren's syndrome occurs by itself.
Sjogren's syndrome your immune system attacks healthy tissue. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first, resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva. This can lead to problems from difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) to dental cavities to light-sensitive eyes to corneal ulcers. Damage may also occur to tissues of your lungs, kidneys,Spleen, heart and liver.
Although you can develop Sjogren's syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at diagnosis. The condition is nine times more likely to occur in women than in men.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome can involve the glands, as above, but there are also possible affects of the illness involving other organs of the body (extraglandular manifestations).
When the tear gland (lacrimal gland) is inflamed from Sjogren's, the resulting eye dryness can progressively lead to eye irritation, decreased tear production, "gritty" sensation, infection, and serious abrasion of the dome of the eye (cornea).
Inflammation of the salivary glands can lead to mouth dryness, swallowing difficulties, dental decay, gum disease, mouth sores and swelling, stones and/or infection of parotid gland inside of the cheeks.
Other glands that can become inflamed, though less commonly, in Sjogren's syndrome include those of the lining of the breathing passages (leading to lung infections) and vagina (sometimes noted as pain during intercourse).
Extraglandular (outside of the glands) problems in Sjogren's syndrome include joint pain or inflammation (arthritis), Raynaud's phenomenon, lung inflammation, lymph node enlargement, kidney, nerve, and muscle disease. A rare serious complication of Sjogren's syndrome is inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), which can damage the tissues of the body that are supplied by these vessels.
A common disease that is occasionally associated with Sjogren's syndrome is autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), which can lead to abnormal hormone levels detected by thyroid blood tests. Heartburn and difficulty swallowing can result from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), another common condition associated with Sjogren's syndrome. A rare disease that is uncommonly associated with Sjogren's syndrome is primary biliary cirrhosis, an immune disease of the liver that leads to scarring of the liver tissue. A small percentage of patients with Sjogren's syndrome develop cancer of the lymph glands (lymphoma). This usually develops after many years with the illness. Unusual gland swelling should be reported to the physician.
Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. The body attacks its own cells and tissues. It's known that your Yin de-eficiency gives rish to dryness and damages your immune system. These factors may be related to heredity, hormones or a viral infection. In the case of Sjogren's syndrome, they cause the over production of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which attack and damage your moisture-producing glands. They can also damage other organs, including your lungs, kidneys and liver in the later stage.
Risk factors :
Anyone can develop Sjogren's syndrome, it typically occurs in people with one or more known risk factors. These include:
Having a heaty conditions and rheumatic disease. It's common for people who have Sjogren's syndrome to also have a rheumatic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or polymyositis etc. Being female. Women are nine times as likely as men are to have Sjogren's syndrome.
Being a certain age. Sjogren's syndrome is usually diagnosed in people older than 40. Having a family history of Sjogren's. Sjogren's syndrome sometimes runs in families.
What Other Parts of the Body Are Involved in Sjögren’s Syndrome?
The autoimmune response that causes dry eyes and mouth can cause inflammation throughout the body. People with Sjögren’s often have skin, lung, kidney, and nerve problems, as well as disorders of the digestive system and connective tissue. Following are examples of extraglandular problems.
About half of the people who have Sjögren’s have dry skin. Some experience only itching, but it can be severe. Others develop cracked, split skin that can easily become infected. Infection is a risk for people with itchy skin, too, particularly if they scratch vigorously. The skin may darken in infected areas, but it returns to normal when the infection clears up and the scratching stops.
To treat dry skin, apply heavy moisturizing creams and ointments three or four times a day to trap moisture in the skin. Lotions, which are lighter than creams and ointments, aren’t recommended because they evaporate quickly and can contribute to dry skin. Also, doctors suggest that you take only a short shower (less than 5 minutes), use a moisturizing soap, pat your skin almost dry, and then cover it with a cream or ointment. If you take baths, it’s a good idea to soak for 10 to 15 minutes to give your skin time to absorb moisture. Having a humidifier in the bedroom can help hydrate your skin, too. If these steps don’t help the itching, your doctor might recommend that you use a skin cream or ointment containing steroids.
Some patients who have Sjögren’s, particularly those who have lupus, are sensitive to sunlight and can get painful burns from even a little sun exposure, such as through a window. So, if you’re sensitive to sunlight, you need to wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) whenever you go outdoors and try to avoid being in the sun for long periods of time.
Vaginal dryness is common in women with Sjögren’s syndrome. Painful intercourse is the most common complaint. A vaginal moisturizer helps retain moisture, and a vaginal lubricant can make intercourse more comfortable. Vaginal moisturizers attract liquid to the dry tissues and are designed for regular use. Vaginal lubricants should be used only for intercourse—they don’t moisturize. Oil-based lubricants, such as petroleum jelly, trap moisture and can cause sores and hinder the vagina’s natural cleaning process. A water-soluble lubricant is better.
Regular skin creams and ointments relieve dry skin on the outer surface of the vagina (the vulva).
Dry mouth can cause lung problems. For example, aspiration pneumonia can happen when a person breathes in food instead of swallowing it (dry mouth can keep you from swallowing food properly), and the food gets stuck in the lungs. Pneumonia can also develop when bacteria in the mouth migrate into the lungs and cause infection, or when bacteria get into the lungs and coughing doesn’t remove them. (Some people with Sjögren’s don’t produce enough mucus in the lungs to remove bacteria, and others are too weak to be able to cough.) Pneumonia is treated with various antibiotics, depending on the person and the type of infection. It is important to get treatment for pneumonia to prevent lung abscess (a hole in the lung caused by severe infection).
People with Sjögren’s also tend to have lung problems caused by inflammation, such as bronchitis (affecting the bronchial tubes), tracheobronchitis (affecting the windpipe and bronchial tubes), and laryngotracheobronchitis (affecting the voice box, windpipe, and bronchial tubes). Depending on your condition, the doctor may recommend using a humidifier, taking medicines to open the bronchial tubes, or taking corticosteroids to relieve inflammation. Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of the lungs and is treated with corticosteroids and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.
Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease, characterized by the abnormal production of extra antibodies in the blood that are directed against various tissues of the body.Sjogren's syndrome that involves the gland inflammation (resulting in dryness of the eyes and mouth, etc.), but not associated with a connective tissue disease, is referred to as primary Sjogren's syndrome.