Sjogrens Syndrome

Facts About Sjogrens Syndrome

Sjogren’s disease is an immune system disorder much like arthritis, except that instead of attacking the skin or joints immune system cells attack the exocrine glands.  Exocrine glands are responsible for producing tears and saliva.  This disease affects women far more often than men and it typically occurs in the late 40’s.  It can occur by itself or in conjunction with rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.  The largest symptom of Sjogren’s is dryness of the mouth or eyes, it can also cause dryness in the skin, vagina and nose.  The disease may also move on to organs within the body like many other immune system diseases.

Sjogren’s syndrome is so close to other immune system disorders in terms of symptoms that it is difficult to distinguish between Sjogren’s and many other immune system disorders.  The Schirmer test is a means of measuring tear production in order to figure out whether or not someone has Sjogren’s, it is conducted with a strip of special paper to measure moisture levels. Testing for Sjogrens orally involves seeing how much saliva production is done by the mouth in a five-minute period.  While it is easy to test for Sjogren’s disease it is unfortunately without a cure as are many other immune system disorders.

In the later stages of the disease a lack of moisture in the eyes can cause serious problems with regard to vision in addition to large degree of pain being experienced with regard to the eyes themselves.  Even eye drops and over the counter forms of moisture do little to halt the lack of moisture from becoming worse over time.  One of the ways to preserve your own natural moisture is to plug the inactive tear ducts so that the moisture remains on your eyes longer.

Since the mouth will inevitably be dry from Sjogren’s having preventative maintenance done on your teeth will help to keep them from being damaged quickly by the lack of moisture. Bacteria are able to replicate themselves much easier in a dry mouth and as a result cavities are caused far more frequently in the mouth of someone that has Sjogren’s syndrome.  Any existing cavities must be treated immediately if a patient tests positive for Sjogren’s disease because otherwise they can worsen and cause tooth loss.  Preventative maintenance of a patient’s body is very important if they test positive for Sjogren’s disease.

Sjogren’s can spread into the body’s organs much like arthritis and other immune diseases.  Unlike other immune system diseases though Sjogren’s does not go into remission so it will cause serious problems to a patient for their entire life.  Pain management and other measures are useful when treating Sjogren’s, however there is no cure and any suppression of one’s immune system leaves the body vulnerable to disease.  Addressing the complications that arise from this disorder are a tricky situation in and of themselves and should be approached with caution.  Make sure to evaluate all of your options during and after your diagnosis and make informed decisions.

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