Sjögren's Syndrome Symptoms
Most Common Sjögren’s Syndrome Symptoms
When a person has Sjögren’s syndrome, their immune system is attacking the glands that keep the eyes, mouth and other body parts moist. The severity of the disease can vary widely, but the most common symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth.
- Dry eyes. Due to decreased tear production, your eyes may feel extremely dry. They may also itch or burn, leading to excessive blinking. It may feel like grains of sand are lodged in your eyes. Or they may be red or watery, and you may have blurred vision or be sensitive to bright or fluorescent lights.
- Dry mouth. Because your body can’t produce saliva readily, it might be difficult to swallow or speak, or to taste food. Your mouth may feel chalky or cottonlike, you might wake up at night and need a drink because of the dryness, or you may find yourself drinking more during the day to help swallow food.
Because Sjögren’s syndrome primarily involves the eyes and mouth, you may have cavities and infections of the mouth such as oral thrush (a yeast infection) and vision problems including corneal ulcers.
Sjögren’s syndrome can often be difficult to diagnose, as these symptoms are very general and can indicate a range of conditions.
More Sjogren’s Syndrome Symptoms
The disease can affect parts of the body other than the eyes and mouth. You may experience dryness in your nose or throat or on your skin. Sjögren’s syndrome can also affect the joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs and nerves, causing symptoms such as:
- Swollen glands, specifically behind the jaw and in front of the ears
- Joint pain, swelling or stiffness
- Prolonged dry skin
- Skin rashes
- Chronic dry cough
- Vaginal dryness
- Problems urinating, including pain, urinating more than usual, getting up at night often to urinate and needing to urinate suddenly
- Numbness or tingling in your fingers and toes
- Prolonged fatigue and/or a feeling of tiredness that keeps you from daily activities
If You Think You May Have Sjögren’s Syndrome
If these symptoms sound like ones you’re experiencing, you could have Sjögren’s syndrome. It’s important to share this information with your general practitioner, eye doctor or dentist. If Sjögren’s syndrome isn’t treated appropriately, significant, long-term complications could result that affect your eyes, mouth, lungs, kidneys, liver or lymph nodes — complications including blindness, significant dental destruction and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Your doctor will discuss your symptoms in greater detail and determine if you should see a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, for a diagnosis.