Sjögren’s Syndrome – Disease Overview | Johns Hopkins

Sjögren’s Syndrome – Disease Overview | Johns Hopkins

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Sjogren’s Syndrome is
an autoimmune disease in which inflammation
is targeted primarily at the salivary and lacrimal glands. Those glands that make
the tears and saliva, and as a result one
gets tremendous dryness of the eyes and the mouth. But it’s also a systemic disease, and so it also affects other organs and other tissues. So in that context it
can produce joint pain from arthritis, it can
affect internal organs, it can make people very tired. They get brain fog,
cognitive difficulties. So it has a variety of
systemic affects, in addition to infecting primarily the
tears and saliva glands. So Sjorgren’s Syndrome
affects primarily women, and women primarily in
their perimenopausal and postmenopausal years of life. Although it clearly affects
children, teenagers, and older individuals as well. The ratio of women to men is
easily more than 10 to one, so it really is a disease
that primarily affects women. So dryness of the eyes and mouth are kind of the cardinal
symptoms of Sjorgren’s Syndrome, but it in fact causes dryness elsewhere, such as in the skin and the vagina. So patients with Sjorgren’s Syndrome often do get other autoimmune diseases. Sometimes it might be thyroid
disease it might be liver, it forms a lot of new liver disease. But also they often
get Sjorgren’s Syndrome in the context of
another rheumatic disease such as rheumatoid
arthritis, or systemic lupus, or systemic sclerosis. So it actually is the most
common autoimmune disease to be associated with yet another autoimmune rheumatic disease. I think there’s been a
problem in that patients are often not diagnosed on time. The symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth are actually very common
in the population, so a lot of people have those symptoms. And it doesn’t come across
a physician to think, oh if the patient reports
dry eyes and dry mouth then I should think about
Sjorgren’s Syndrome. So the symptoms are quite non-specific and the testing that’s
required to diagnose Sjorgren’s Syndrome is
actually fairly complicated. It may require blood
tests, but in addition it may require biopsy of the lip, which can be hard to
obtain and read properly. I often get asked whether
patients with Sjorgren’s can have flares, and I think
the answer is clearly yes. Patients who live with this disease have periods and days
when they’re much worse. The dryness of their eyes
and the dryness in the mouth is clearly worse then usual. And some people have a much
more of a systemic flare where out of the blue they’ll
start having much more joint pain, they’ll get a
rash, what we call vasculitis. They will get other
manifestations, so it can flare. But it’s interesting, it’s
not a disease that flares in the way that some of our
rheumatic diseases flare, such as lupus. For more patients it’s
much more stable over time, and it does not fluctuate that
much on a day to day basis.

1 thought on “Sjögren’s Syndrome – Disease Overview | Johns Hopkins”

  1. I have Sjogrens and it also affects my autonomic system. I’ve been tested for orthostatic hypotension and it has come back positive many times. It was thought that my weakness and drops of blood pressure was due to something like MS or even Parkinson’s but all of my testing was negative for those and I was told that my Sjorgrens is affecting my autonomic system. I really wish you could go deeper in your explanation of this disorder because many people believe that it is just dry eyes and mouth, and that part can be very bad, but I also have a lot of very painful muscle spasms and blood pressure problems. Thank you!

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