Sjogren's Syndrome

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center

Rheumatology & Metabolic Bone Disease & Osteoporosis Specialists located in Wyomissing, PA

Sjogren’s syndrome causes such generic symptoms, like dry eyes and a dry mouth, that makes it difficult to diagnose. Most patients suffer from symptoms for nearly three years before learning the real cause of the problem. When you seek help from the team at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center, you won't have to wait years to get the help you need for Sjogren’s syndrome. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Sjogren's Syndrome Q & A

 

What is Sjogren’s syndrome?

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks glands that produce tears and saliva. The inflammation and damage that develop in those glands affect their ability to function.

While Sjogren’s syndrome can affect men and women at any age, the symptoms usually appear between the ages of 45 and 55, and women are nine times more likely to develop the disorder than men. 

Additionally, about half of all patients with Sjogren’s syndrome have another autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

 

What symptoms develop if I have Sjogren’s syndrome?

Sjogren’s syndrome typically affects the glands in your eyes and mouth, so most patients develop dry eyes and a dry mouth. 

However, your immune system may attack other parts of your body, causing symptoms called extraglandular manifestations that affect areas such as your skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, nervous system, and joints.

These are a few examples of the symptoms you may experience if you have Sjogren’s syndrome:

  • Dry eyes (painful or burning eyes, blurry vision, a gritty feeling in your eyes)
  • Dry mouth (thick saliva, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness)
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Muscle pain
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Skin rashes
  • Acid reflux
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Chronic cough
  • Swollen glands

Dry eye and mouth may occur for a number of causes, including the immune system, age-related causes, medications, prior facial gland surgery or radiation, but many patients with Sjogren’s syndrome also have chronic pain and fatigue that’s severe enough to interfere with their daily lives.

 

How is Sjogren’s syndrome treated?

Your treatment depends on the part of your body that’s affected by Sjogren’s syndrome. Since there isn’t a cure for this disorder, your individualized treatment focuses on alleviating your symptoms. 

The rheumatologists at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center offer immune-based treatments but also symptom-based treatments for other causes.

Dry eye treatment

Treatment for dry eyes typically includes preservative-free artificial tears or ointments that are used at night while you sleep. Prescription medications are also available to reduce eye inflammation. 

In severe cases, the team may recommend getting punctal plugs, which keep your eyes moist by preventing tears from draining.

Dry mouth treatment

You may get the relief you need from a saliva substitute. Depending on the severity of your dry mouth, chewing gum or drinking water may help. Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center can also prescribe medications that stimulate saliva production.

Systemic treatment

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center may prescribe one of several possible medications to treat body-wide symptoms. For example, you may benefit from:

  • Antifungal therapies if a yeast infection develops
  • Nasal irrigation and humidifiers for nasal dryness
  • Medications to reduce gastric acid if you develop acid reflux
  • Oral corticosteroids to treat inflammation in organs
  • Immunosuppressants to treat extraglandular manifestations

If you develop symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, expert treatment is available at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center. Call the office to schedule an appointment.