Pronounced "SHOW-grins," Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack your body's cells and tissues. Many patients are unaware of this condition until they receive a diagnosis.
The body's immune system also attacks the lacrimal gland — your tear-producing gland — and your salivary glands. It causes dryness that can lead to other symptoms or conditions.
Many treatment options for this disease can help you avoid its uncomfortable symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms, you may be asking yourself, "Do I have Sjögren's Syndrome?" Our quiz will help you determine if you have this surprisingly common condition.
Do You Have Sjögren's Syndrome? Take Our Quiz
Sjögren’s Syndrome is tough to diagnose and can take as many as three years for a patient to receive a diagnosis. There isn't a particular test doctors can perform to diagnose this disease.
If you are concerned that you might have this condition, here are some questions you can ask yourself before speaking to a rheumatologist about your concerns:
Are you experiencing dryness in your eyes or noticed any changes in your vision?
If you answered yes, Sjögren's Syndrome could be causing your immune system to attack your lacrimal gland. This dryness in the eye can lead to injury or long-term damage to the eyeball.
Common characteristic symptoms associated with dry eye due to Sjögren's Syndrome include:
- Itchy eyes
- Blurred vision
- Grainy feeling in the eye
- Intolerance or sensitivity to bright lights
- Eye infections
Do you have trouble speaking or swallowing?
Sjögren's Syndrome causes patients to have difficulty speaking and swallowing because it affects their salivary glands. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may want to consult with a rheumatologist about this condition:
- Chalky feeling in the mouth
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tooth decay
- Mouth infections
Is there an impairment with your taste or smell?
Sjögren's Syndrome impairs your ability to taste food, which can, in turn, impact your olfactory senses (sense of smell). This condition causes a sensory deficit due to the absence of sufficient saliva.
It is another reason swallowing becomes difficult for Sjögren's Syndrome patients and why tooth decay and infections in the mouth are a concern.
Are you experiencing profound fatigue?
Fatigue is a symptom of a plethora of conditions, yet patients with Sjögren's Syndrome experience profound fatigue — known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Since fatigue is symptomatic of a multitude of conditions, it is one that patients are quick to overlook.
If you are experiencing chronic fatigue, don't shrug it off as simply being tired. It could cause a delay in your diagnosis.
Diagnosing Sjögren's Syndrome
Treating Sjögren's Syndrome first requires a diagnosis. Your rheumatologist will perform a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential causes, including:
- Blood tests
- Schirmer test
- Rose Bengal
- Lissamine Green
- Salivary flow
- Salivary gland biopsy
Your rheumatologist will work with you to decrease the abnormal immune response along with treating the symptoms related to dryness. Your provider will prescribe medications that may include NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and DMARDs.
Treatment for Sjögren's Syndrome
Ultimately, the best treatment for your Sjögren’s Syndrome will need to be unique to your symptoms and the severity of your condition. If you believe you have Sjögren’s Syndrome, you should contact a rheumatologist to see the best treatment options for you.
At Southwest Florida Rheumatology, our knowledgeable providers can work with you to manage your condition and develop a customized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. We have three locations to more effectively treat our patients, including Riverview, Sun City, and Wesley Chapel.
Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced rheumatologists about treating your Sjögren's Syndrome.