What is Sjögren’s syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the mucous membranes and glands responsible for producing saliva and tears. This leads to abnormal dryness in your mouth, eyes and other tissues. Sjögren’s syndrome can occur alone, however in approximately 50% of cases it occurs in the presence of other immune system diseases, such as:
Sjogren’s syndrome is a disease of the immune system that primarily affects mucous membranes and glands that produce saliva or tears. It can occur by itself, however in half of the cases it is associated with other rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
What causes Sjögren’s syndrome?
The exact cause of Sjogren’s syndrome remains unknown at this time. However, research suggests genetic factors or viral infections may play a role in triggering your immune system to attack healthy tissues. It also affects women more than men, with nine out of ten patients with Sjögren’s being female.
What are the signs and symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome?
Sjogren’s targets your immune system, therefore you can exhibit signs in many different parts of your body. However, this disease primarily affects the glands that produce tears and saliva, resulting in common symptoms of:
- Dry, irritated or a painful burning in your eyes,
- Dry mouth (which can lead to dental problems such as decay),
- Chewing or swallowing difficulties,
- Swelling in the glands of your face or neck
Some people may also experience dryness of their skin, nose, throat or vagina.
Common signs of Sjogren’s include irritated, dry eyes or mouth, swelling of glands and fatigue. It is not often associated with serious complications or issues with your joints, muscles and bones unless you also have inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
How is Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosed?
Diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome involves a physical exam, a range of tests, and evaluation of your symptoms. Although a dry mouth and eyes are common signs, these are also commonly linked to other illnesses or side effects from certain medications.
The primary diagnostic test for Sjogrens is a Shirmer’s test. A doctor can use blotting paper to measure tear production of your eyes, and if it is adequate to keep your eyes moist. In addition we can perform blood tests or a biopsy of your lip to help form an accurate diagnosis.
If people also have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus or other forms of arthritis and are experiencing the symptoms described above, a specialist should be checking for Sjogren’s syndrome.
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What options are there for Sjögren’s syndrome
treatment in Brisbane?
There is currently no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but treatments help manage symptoms and prevent complications. As this immune system disease manifests differently in each individual, a customised plan is vital. A specialist physician, such as a Rheumatologist, has the knowledge, experience and skills to create a plan in collaboration with your GP, dentist and eye care team to help you.
Over-the-counter products can be helpful in reducing dryness in the eyes and mouth, such as:
- Artificial saliva
- Medicated mouth rinses
- Eye drops
- Artificial Tears
However, most patients will require prescription medications to control the severity of the disease and prevent possible complications. At present, no single medication has definitively shown to halt the progression of Sjögren’s or manage all aspects of the condition. Instead, a combination of treatments is needed.
Certain lifestyle modifications can also be beneficial in managing specific symptoms like fatigue and improving your overall health and quality of daily life. Things such as eating a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding binge drinking or smoking can go a long way in helping to lessen the severity of your symptoms.
How much does Sjögren’s syndrome treatment cost in Brisbane?
Why choose ArthritisCARE for your Sjögren’s syndrome
treatment in Brisbane?
At ArthritisCARE, our team of medical experts is dedicated to providing compassionate and personalised care to help you manage your disease and improve your quality of life. We offer state-of-the-art facilities and the latest treatments to ensure the best possible outcomes so our patients can live their lives as fully as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your Sjögren’s syndrome.
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The ArthritisCARE team of rheumatoid specialists in Brisbane has many years of experience and offers you a choice of both male and female Rheumatologists in Brisbane. Our goal is to ensure that you feel comfortable working with us so that we can collaboratively treat your condition and significantly improve the way you feel. Each and every day.
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You can find all the commonly asked questions about Sjögren’s syndrome below:
The best treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and individual needs. We recommend artificial saliva or mouth rinses to help with dry mouth, eye drops to help with dry eyes and other lifestyle modifications to alleviate symptoms. You can contact ArthritisCARE to discuss your diagnosis and the best management plan for your individual needs.
Rheumatologists specialise in the management of Sjögren’s Syndrome, however they often collaborate with other specialists such as Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) for dry eyes and dentists for mouth dryness due to the complexity of Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Sjögren’s syndrome can be considered a disability if it affects an individual’s ability to work or perform daily activities. However, this disease does not usually lead to serious complications that would greatly impact your quality of life.
A Rheumatologist may diagnose and treat Sjögren’s syndrome, as well as provide ongoing care and management of the disease. They may also collaborate with other specialists such as ophthalmologists and dentists to provide comprehensive care.
There is currently no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but careful management of symptoms can prevent complications. With the right combination of therapy such as artificial tears, eye drops and mouth rinses, people with Sjögren’s can live a long, healthy life.
Although Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic condition, individuals can live with the disease for many years and have normal lives. There is an increased risk of infections in and around your eyes, and mouth dryness can lead to dental problems. However, with regular consultations and following the advice of your Rheumatologist or other specialist the outlook is very positive.
Although the exact trigger for Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown, research indicates genetics and viral infections may be the culprits.
Sjögren’s syndrome primarily affects the glands responsible for producing saliva and tears. In rare cases it can also impact other organs and systems such as the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal system and central nervous system. In even rarer cases, some people may develop lymphoma.
Pain associated with Sjögren’s syndrome may vary and can include joint pain, as well as muscle pain and fatigue. Individuals may also experience dryness-related pain such as burning dry eyes and mouth dryness making swallowing and chewing difficult.
Very rarely have people with Sjögren’s syndrome also been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. Sjögren’s is most commonly associated with other inflammatory autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Where can I learn more about Sjögren’s syndrome?
Arthritis Australia’s Sjögren’s syndrome Resources
Information Sheet: Sjögren’s syndrome by Arthritis Australia
The Sjögren’s Foundation (US)
Information Sheet: What is Sjögren’s? by the Sjögren’s Foundation
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