Sjogren's syndrome is basically an autoimmune disease, meaning that it causes your own immune system to start attacking the healthy tissues and cells of your body.
People above the age of 40 are more at risk of developing Sjogren's syndrome, but it can occur at any stage of life. Women are more prone to develop this disorder than men. Since it does not have a cure, the aim of treatment for this condition is to alleviate symptoms.
However, such symptoms are synonymous with old age as well, and it is more than likely that a person having a dry mouth or dry eyes does not suffer from this disorder.
Vaginal dryness is a symptom that is experienced by women suffering from Sjogren's syndrome. This can make intercourse a painful exercise for them.
Having a dry mouth can cause recurrent fungal infections in your mouth, dry cough, hoarse voice, make it difficult for you to speak, gum disease and tooth decay, swelling of the salivary glands, having trouble in chewing or swallowing,
Having dry eyes can cause itchiness and stinging or burning sensation in the eyes. It can also lead to tired looking eyes, photophobia, swelling of the eyelids, emission of mucus from the eyes, feeling of having grit in your eyes.
All of the abovementioned symptoms worsen if you are boarding a plane or present in a building having an air-conditioned system or a smoky area.
People suffering from acute Sjogren's syndrome can experience many other symptoms as their immune system might start attacking other organs of their body. These symptoms include pain in the muscles, dry skin all over, swollen and paining joints, vasculitis, extreme fatigue and exhaustion and having problems in remembering things and concentrating.
The eyes and the mouth are the most affected by the side-effects of Sjogren's syndrome.
Other complications of Sjogren's syndrome that you are likely to get affected by include:
Sjogren's syndrome symptoms like dry mouth and eyes can be mistaken just for old age and are not enough to make a positive diagnosis. General diagnosis include:
Using medications like Elavil or Pamelor which are both tricyclic antidepressants can cause symptoms or side-effects that resemble to that of Sjogren's syndrome. Moreover using Benadryl which is an antihistamine can lead to severe dryness in the mouth and eyes. In addition to this, many other autoimmune diseases can also cause these symptoms as well.
As explained before, Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease, which causes your own immune system to start attacking the healthy tissues and cells of your body.
There is no exact reason for the development of Sjogren's syndrome. People having a particular type of a gene might be more vulnerable to this disease, but they must get infected by a bacteria or a virus if they are to get affected by this disorder.
The moisture-producing glands present in the mouth and the eyes are the first ones that are targeted by the immune system in Sjogren's syndrome. However, other parts of the body can also get damaged in this disorder as well like nerves, liver, joints, lungs, kidneys, skin and thyroid.
Over-the-counter eye lubricants and eye drops and increasing your intake of water can help you in managing the most common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome, dry mouth and dry eyes. However, other people might require prescription medications or even surgery to alleviate the symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome.