Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes uncomfortable dry eyes and mouth, but proper treatment can help you live comfortably again. The expert rheumatologists at Arthritis Northwest PLLC in Spokane, Washington, can diagnose Sjögren's syndrome and underlying conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Call the office to book an appointment now. Or, visit us online.
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune illness that commonly causes problems in your tear and saliva glands. There are two main forms of Sjögren's syndrome:
Primary Sjögren's syndrome affects people who don't have another rheumatic disease.
Secondary Sjögren's syndrome occurs in people with another rheumatic disease, with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus being the most common. Up to 18% of people with lupus and 15% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop Sjögren's syndrome.
Sjögren's syndrome can cause symptoms that are uncomfortable and irritating, but prompt treatment can minimize these problems and restore your quality of life.
Sjögren's syndrome commonly causes two main issues:
Dry eyes may feel hot, itchy, and painful. Some people experience the sensation of a foreign body in their eye or significant eye grittiness.
Dry mouth can make it hard to swallow and difficult to speak clearly.
Some people with Sjögren's syndrome also experience issues like joint pain, acid reflux, fatigue, salivary gland swelling, vaginal dryness, dry nasal passages, and dry cough.
Sjögren's syndrome can cause complications related to mucus membrane dryness. People with dry mouth are at greater risk for cavities, gum disease, and oral yeast infections.
Without treatment, people with dry eyes can develop eye infections, corneal scarring, and vision difficulties.
Some people experience vasculitis, blood vessel inflammation that may cause additional complications like rashes, as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower body (peripheral neuropathy).
Treatment at Arthritis Northwest PLLC emphasizes symptom management, so it's specific to your needs. If you have dry eyes, you likely need artificial tears (eye drops) or punctal plugs that block your tear ducts. You may also need prescription eye drops to boost tear production.
For dry mouth, certain habits like drinking more water and chewing gum frequently can stimulate saliva production and relieve symptoms. You may need prescription medication to increase saliva flow. Oral yeast infections may require antifungal therapy.
All people with Sjögren's syndrome need to schedule regular dental and eye care so that issues can be caught early and treated as soon as possible.
If you have chronic joint pain, you may need a medication that commonly treats lupus and rheumatoid arthritis to address inflammation. For bodywide Sjögren's syndrome, medication infusions can lessen symptoms without suppressing your entire immune system.
To learn more about how you can live with Sjögren's syndrome, call Arthritis Northwest PLLC to book an appointment today. Or, visit us online.