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What is Sjogren's Syndrome?

 


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This is an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. The syndrome strikes as many as 4,000,000 Americans and is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, primarily women, although it occurs in both women and men. The late 40s is an average age of onset, although the syndrome occurs in all age groups.

Sjogren's syndrome occurs alone about 50% of the time, and occurs in the presence of another connective tissue disease about 50% of the time. There are four common diagnoses that co-exist with Sjogren's syndrome, they are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Systemic Lupus

  • Systemic sclerosis

  • Polymyositis/dermatomyositis

    Sjogren's syndrome affects the entire body in all instances. The hallmark symptoms are:

  • Dry eyes

  • And dry mouth

    This syndrome may also cause dryness of other organs such as the kidneys, GI tract, blood vessels, lung, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system Debilitating fatigue and joint pain is also experienced. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while other people suffer debilitating symptoms. Symptoms are known to plateau, get worse, and even go into remission.

    To prevent complications, early diagnosis and treatment are very important. The symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome are the same as those of other diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis. Dry eyes and mouth can also occur for other reasons, such as a side effect of medicines like anti-depressants or high blood pressure medicine.

    All the symptoms are not always present at the same time. Sjogren's syndrome involves several body systems that physicians and dentists sometimes treat each symptom individually and do not recognize that a systemic disease is present.

    What is the average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis?

  • Over six year

    What specialist primarily has the responsibility for diagnosing and managing Sjogren's syndrome?

  • The rheumatologist

    If Sjogren's syndrome is suspected, what kind of test is ordered?

  • ANA blood test (about 70% of Sjogren's patients have a positive ANA test result)

  • SSA and SSB (70% of patients are positive for SSA and 40% are positive for SSB)

  • ESR blood test (measures inflammation) An elevated ESR can indicate an inflammatory disorder that includes Sjogren's syndrome

  • IGs: These are normal blood proteins that are usually elevated in Sjogren's syndrome

    The patient may likely be referred to an ophthalmologist and an oral pathologist or dentist for additional procedures.

    An ophthalmologist may order:

  • A Schirmer Test (measures tear production

  • Rose Bengal and Lissamine Green: Uses dyes to observe abnormal cells on the surface of the eye

  • A slit-lamp exam: Indicates the volume of tears by magnifying the eye and viewing it in its resting state

    A dentist may order:

  • Parotid Gland Flow: Measures the amount of saliva produced over a certain period of time

  • Salivary Scintigraphy: Measures salivary gland function

  • Sialography: Is an x-ray of the salivary-duct system

  • Lip Biopsy: Is used to confirm lymphocytic infiltration of the minor salivary glands.

    It is extremely important to obtain an early diagnosis and high quality professional dental and eye care.

    Many of the symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome can be treated with over-the-counter drugs as well as non-medication procedures such as use of a humidifier and protective devices like goggles.

    Some over-the-counter products include:

  • Preservative-free artificial tears

  • Artificial salivas

  • Unscented skin lotions

  • Saline nasal sprays

  • Vaginal lubricants

    There are prescription products such as Lacriserts to alleviate dry eyes and Salagen to treat dry mouth.

    Sjogren's syndrome is serious but generally not fatal. There is no cure.

    Source: Sjogren's syndrome Foundation

    Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

    This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

    Author: Connie Limon. Visit http://smalldogs2.com/NutritionHealthHub and sign up for a weekly nutrition and health tip. The article collection is available as FREE reprints for your newsletters, websites or blog. For a variety of FREE reprint articles on various topics rarely seen elsewhere visit http://www.camelotarticles.com

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