Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in
which immune cells attack and destroy the glands
that produce tears and saliva. Sjögren's syndrome is
also associated with rheumatic disorders such as
rheumatoid arthritis. The hallmark symptoms of the
disorder are dry mouth and dry eyes. In addition,
Sjogren's syndrome may cause skin, nose, and vaginal
dryness, and may affect other organs of the body
including the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, liver,
pancreas, and brain.
Sjögren's syndrome affects 1-4 million people in the
United States. Most people are more than 40 years
old at the time of diagnosis. Women are 9 times more
likely to have Sjögren's syndrome than men.
Is there any treatment?
There is no known cure for
Sjögren's syndrome nor is there a specific
treatment to restore gland secretion. Treatment
is generally symptomatic and supportive.
Moisture replacement therapies may ease the
symptoms of dryness. Nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to treat
musculoskeletal symptoms. For individuals with
severe complications, corticosteroids or
immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed.
What is the prognosis?
Sjögren's syndrome can
damage vital organs of the body with symptoms
that may remain stable, worsen, or go into
remission. Some people may experience only the
mild symptoms of dry eyes and mouth, while
others go through cycles of good health followed
by severe disease. Many patients are able to
treat problems symptomatically. Others are
forced to cope with blurred vision, constant eye
discomfort, recurrent mouth infections, swollen
parotid glands, hoarseness, and difficulty in
swallowing and eating. Debilitating fatigue and
joint pain can seriously impair quality of life.
National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)