While there is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, there are ways you can control the symptoms to minimise their impact on your daily life. The team at arthritisCARE will thoroughly evaluate your current condition and will then recommend the best treatment options to help you.
We deal with a range of autoimmune conditions in Australia and work hard to minimise the impact of these conditions on your comfort and quality of life. Read on to learn more about this disease and the ways in which our team can help.
How long can a person live with Sjögren’s syndrome?
The outlook for those with Sjögren’s syndrome is very positive and many are able to live normal lives without any serious complications. While there may be an increased risk of infections in and around the eyes or problems with teeth, it is possible to live with the disease long term with it being regularly managed in consultation with your Rheumatologist.
In rare cases, organs may be involved, such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. In an even smaller number of people, the syndrome may be associated with lymphoma. Early diagnosis and proper treatment is important, as together they may prevent serious complications and greatly improve a patient's quality of life.
What is Sjögren’s syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks your healthy tissues. This can lead to abnormal dryness in the mouth, eyes and other tissues. About half of the time Sjögren's occurs alone and in the other half of cases, it occurs in the presence of another autoimmune connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or Lupus (Systemic lupus erythematosus).
Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms
Sjögren’s syndrome targets the immune system and therefore can exhibit symptoms over many different parts of the body. This is most noticeable in the glands that produce tears and saliva.
Common symptoms include:
- Dry, irritated, or a painful burning in the eyes
- Dry mouth with potential for dental decay as saliva is important for keeping teeth clean
- Difficulty with chewing and swallowing
- Swelling of the glands around the face and neck
Some people may also experience dryness in the nose, throat, vagina and skin.
With many years of experience dealing with a range of arthritis and related conditions in Australia, the arthritisCARE team works hard to help you ensure your health is optimised.
What causes Sjögren’s syndrome?
It is not known what causes Sjögren’s syndrome, however it is believed but not yet proven, that genetic factors or viral infections can initiate onset of the disease. Nine out of ten Sjögren’s patients are women. At this point in time, with ongoing uncertainty around the cause of the syndrome, there is no form of prevention available.
Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosis
In most cases, our team will diagnose Sjögren’s syndrome from your symptoms, along with a physical examination and a range of tests. The most obvious indicators can be dry eyes and mouth, however this will often require further testing as these symptoms can be linked to many other diseases or to side effects of medication being taken.
The main test to diagnose Sjögren’s Syndrome is called a Shirmer’s test which involves using a strip of blotting paper to measure the tears produced by the eyes. Blood tests and a biopsy of the lip can also help to diagnose Sjögren’s syndrome.
Sjögren’s syndrome treatment
Since Sjögren’s affects each person differently, a personalised plan needs to be developed by your Rheumatologist in collaboration with your GP, dentist and eye care team.
Lifestyle changes can help certain symptoms such as fatigue and gastro-intestinal reflux, with over-the-counter products useful in alleviating symptoms such as eye and mouth dryness. Most patients, however, will also need prescription medications to help control the severity of the disease and to reduce the potential for complications. Currently, no single medication has been conclusively proven to slow the progression of Sjögren’s or treat all aspects of the disease.
The arthritisCARE team’s many years of experience in looking after our the health and wellbeing of our patients ensures that we will do all that is possible to provide relief and to improve your quality of life.
Sjögren’s syndrome doctors
With many years of experience dealing with a range of arthritis and related autoimmune conditions in Australia, the arthritisCARE team is well equipped to keep your health at an optimal level.
Our treating Rheumatologists include:
- Dr Peter Landsberg MBBS (HONS), FRACP, FRACGP, DIPRACOG
- Dr Louise McCormack BSC, MBBS (HONS), FRACP
- Dr Clare Owens MBBS, BSC, FRACP
- Dr Maryam Zia MBBS, FRACP
- Dr Kevin Su BPharm, MBBS, FRACP
Once you have a referral from your GP or treating specialist, simply book an appointment to have one of our Rheumatologists expertly assess and advise you on your current situation.
How much will treatment cost for Sjögren’s syndrome?
Treatment costs will be specific to your individual needs. The Frequently Asked Questions section of our website provides information on the fees that we currently charge for initial appointments and follow-up review appointments. Along with information on how much Medicare will refund to you (if you have a current referral).
Preparing for your first appointment
To ensure that our doctors are up to speed quickly on your situation, it helps for them to have as much information as possible in hand ahead of your first appointment. That way they can get moving quickly on helping you start on the path of easing your Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms.
They will need:
- A referral from your GP or treating medical specialist (essential for the reception team to be able to process your Medicare rebate refund on the day of your appointment)
- A completed Patient History Form
- Information about results from previous blood tests
- Pathology tests and any x-ray/ultrasound/MRI scan results
- A list of all medications you are taking or have previously tried
- A list of allergies to medications
- Your family medical history
As we have a full team of Rheumatologists at arthritisCARE, they are able to turn to each other for advice.
If you suffer from Sjögren's syndrome, the arthritisCARE team can help
The pain and discomfort caused by Sjögren's syndrome can impact negatively on your quality of life. Our team understands this better than most, as we treat patients with this and other autoimmune conditions every day including:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ross River Virus
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.
Avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort. Contact us to set up an appointment for a comprehensive, expert medical review.
Recommended further advice is available from:
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