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Sjogren's Syndrome

In Sjogren's syndrome, the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth are usually affected first, resulting in decreased tears and saliva.

Although one can develop Sjogren's syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at the time of diagnosis. The condition is much more common in women. Treatment generally focuses on relieving symptoms.

Some with Sjogren's syndrome also have one or more of the following:

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. The cause is still unknown. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own cells and tissues. A triggering  mechanism such as an infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria may the causative factor.

In Sjogren's syndrome, the immune system first targets the glands that make tears and saliva. But it can also damage other parts of the body, such as:

The most common complications of Sjogren's syndrome involve eyes and mouth

Treatment:

Sjögren's syndrome is a chronic condition that can be managed with medications and other treatments to improve symptoms. There is no known cure. Some treatments include:
  • Pain relief
    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with joint pain and swelling. Low-dose steroids like prednisone can also help. If NSAIDs do not work, PCP may prescribe stronger painkillers. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil),  can also help with joint pain and stiffness, but it can take several months to work and may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Dry eyes
    Artificial tears, anti-inflammatory eye drops, or a minor surgical procedure called punctal occlusion can help relieve dry eyes. Punctal occlusion involves inserting collagen or silicone plugs into the tear ducts to help preserve tears.
  • Vaginal dryness
    Hormone therapy, like supplemental estrogen, can help treat vaginal dryness caused by a hormonal imbalance.
  • Yeast infections
    Antifungal medications may help treat yeast infections in the mouth.
  • Other symptoms
    Other medications that may help include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, cholinergic agonists, immunosuppressive medications, and corticosteroids
Author
Paddy Kalish OD, JD and B.Arch

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