Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an Auto Immune Disease. In Sjogren’s the immune system mistakes the persons healthy tissue as a pathogen (foreign material) and causes the immune system to attack this healthy tissue with antibodies.

Sjogren’s usually affects the exocrine glands, which include the tear, saliva and vaginal glands. In the case of Sjogren’s antibodies attack these glands so that they cannot function normally, and there is also evidence that the antibodies attack the nerves of these glands thus preventing them from working properly. Other parts of the body can also undergo attack from the immune system, including muscles, joints, nerves, blood vessels and in severe cases organs.

There are 2 types of Sjogren’s; Primary and Secondary.

Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome cause is unknown, however it is believed to be due to genetics and environmental factors, also there seems to be a link between Sjogren’s and the female hormone Oestrogen.

Secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome can occur secondary to other autoimmune diseases, including Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, hence it is referred to as secondary Sjogren’s.

Symptoms of Sjogren’s;

As mentioned before Sjogren’s affects the exocrine glands, and the most common reported symptoms  are a dry mouth, dry eyes and in women a dryness of the vagina, which can lead to further problems in those areas or other symptoms.

Dry Mouth symptoms also include; tooth decay, dry cough, hoarse voice, difficulty chewing or swallowing, difficulty speaking, swollen salivery glands and fungal infections of the mouth.

Dry Eye Symptoms also include; burning, stinging or itchy eyes, irritated eyelids, light sensitivity (photphobia), tired eyes and eye discharge.

Other Symptoms found in Sjogren’s include;

Dry Skin, Chronic Fatigue, Muscle and Joint Pain; Pain and Numbness in parts of the body (commonly found in arms and legs), Restricted blood flow to hands and feet, and Inflamed blood vessels.   

There is no current cure for Sjogren’s, however there is a number of treatments and medications that can help to control symptoms.        

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