Sjögren's Syndrome: What You Need to Know
Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, targets moisture-producing glands and can cause systemic symptoms, including fatigue and joint pain.
Typically, it affects women around the age of menopause.
The main symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth.
Sjögren's syndrome often occurs with other immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Sjögren’s syndrome can’t be cured, but eye surgery and nonsurgical treatments, such as eye drops and other medications can ease the severity of symptoms.
Sjögren's Syndrome Overview
In 1933, Swedish physician Henrik Sjögren described 19 women with a severe form of dry eye disease, associated with dry mouth and inflammation of the tear- and saliva-producing glands. Of the women, 13 had severe arthritis, likely what is known today as rheumatoid arthritis. Today, between 400,000 and 3.1 million adults have what is now known as Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that occurs when a person’s cells accidentally attack their own organs, often the glands that produce tears and saliva. As a result, the most common Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but it can also cause dryness elsewhere in the body, including the kidneys, blood vessels and central nervous system.
The name may not be familiar to you, but Sjögren’s syndrome is one of the most common diseases among a group characterized by joint and muscle inflammation. These rheumatic diseases include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Sjögren’s syndrome can affect people of any age and sex, but most people diagnosed are women in their mid-40s to mid-50s.
About half of people with Sjögren’s syndrome also have another autoimmune disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. When the condition is accompanied by another disease of the rheumatic system, it’s called secondary Sjögren’s syndrome. Primary Sjögren’s syndrome occurs on its own.
Many people with Sjögren’s syndrome lead normal lives, once they learn how to manage their symptoms properly.
Sjögren's Syndrome Diagnosis
Because its main symptoms — dry eyes and mouth—are common, Sjögren’s syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a combination of assessments and tests, including bloodwork and biopsies.
Learn how Sjögren’s syndrome is diagnosed.
Sjögren's Syndrome Treatment
Currently, there’s no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome. However, there is a range of treatment options to manage the severity of the symptoms and prevent complications.
Explore treatment options for Sjögren’s syndrome.