Sjögren’s Syndrome: Understanding Dryness and More

Team Health Cages

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A collage of images representing symptoms of Sjögren's Syndrome, including dry eyes, dry mouth, and joint pain.
  • Dry eyes: Eyes may feel gritty, itchy, or as if something is stuck in them. They may also be red and sensitive to light.
  • Dry mouth: Mouth may feel dry, sticky, or sore. This can lead to difficulties with swallowing, speaking, or tasting food.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and lack of energy are common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Joint and muscle pain: Pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles, similar to symptoms of arthritis, can occur.
  • Other symptoms: Sjögren’s syndrome can also cause dryness in the nose, throat, and skin, as well as problems with digestion, concentration, and memory. Some people may experience swollen glands, dental decay, or oral yeast infections.
  1. Medical history: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, including dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, joint pain, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. They’ll also inquire about your personal and family medical history, including any history of autoimmune diseases.
  1. Physical examination: Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, paying close attention to your eyes, mouth, and glands. They may check for signs of dryness in your eyes and mouth, swollen glands, and other physical indicators of Sjögren’s syndrome.

3. Diagnostic tests:

  • Schirmer’s test: This measures tear production to assess for dry eyes. It involves placing small strips of paper under your lower eyelids to measure the amount of tears produced over a certain period.
  • Salivary flow rate: This measures the amount of saliva produced to evaluate for dry mouth. You may be asked to spit into a cup or undergo a more formal salivary flow test.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can check for antibodies commonly associated with autoimmune diseases, such as anti-SSA (Ro) and anti-SSB (La) antibodies, as well as markers of inflammation.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, a minor salivary gland biopsy may be performed to examine the tissue under a microscope for signs of inflammation and damage characteristic of Sjögren’s syndrome.
  1. Additional tests: Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may recommend additional tests to assess for complications of Sjögren’s syndrome, such as imaging studies to evaluate organ involvement or specialized tests to assess for specific symptoms.