Sjogren’s syndrome is a rheumatic disease and chronic autoimmune disease, characterized by inflammation in some glands of the body, such as the mouth and the eyes, which results in symptoms such as dry mouth and feeling of sand in the eyes, in addition to the increased risk of infections such as caries and conjunctivitis.
Sjögren’s syndrome can present in 2 ways:
- Primary: when presented in isolation, due to the changes of the immunity;
- Secondary: when it arises in association with other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, vasculitis, or chronic hepatitis.
This disease, although it does not have cure, has an evolution benign, and develops over many years, and there are also treatment options to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of the person, such as eye drops and saliva artificial.
The main symptoms
In Sjögren’s syndrome there is a dysregulation of the immune system of the person, which causes inflammation and destruction of glands, mainly the salivary and lacrimal. In this way, these glands are unable to produce secretions, and arise symptoms such as:
- Dry mouth, known as xerostomia;
- Difficulty swallowing dry food;
- Dificuldade para falar por muito tempo;
- Dor na barriga;
- Olhos secos;
- Feeling of sand in the eyes, and redness;
- Tired eyes;
- Sensitivity to light;
- Risk of ulcerations of the cornea;
- Increased risk of infections such as cavities, gingivitis, and conjunctivitis;
- Dry skin and dryness of the mucous membrane of the private parts.
This syndrome is more common in young women, but can happen in people of all ages. In some cases, the first symptoms appear in pregnancy, because this is a period in which the hormonal changes and the emotional stimuli can exacerbate this type of disease.
Other types of symptoms
In situations that are more rare, this syndrome can cause signs and symptoms that are not related with the glands, called manifestations extraglandulares. Some are:
- Pain in the joints and in the body;
- Tiredness and weakness;
- Dry cough;
- Changes in the skin, such as hives, purple spots, sores on the skin and changes in sensitivity.
In addition, the Sjögren’s syndrome can cause neurological symptoms, being a kind of manifestation of more severe, which can exhibit a loss of strength in one location of the body, changes in sensitivity, seizures and difficulty in movement.
Although not as common, people with sjogren’s syndrome may also have a chance increased of developing lymphoma, which can occur in more advanced phases of the disease.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome is done by the rheumatologist, who will evaluate the symptoms, do a physical examination of the glands and may request tests such as markers of immunity, the so-called anti-Ro/SSA, anti-La/SSB and FAN.
The biopsy of the lip may be requested to confirm when there is doubt of the diagnosis or to evaluate the presence of other factors that can cause similar symptoms to this syndrome, such as viral infections, diabetes, use of certain medications, or psychological causes, for example. Check out which can be the other causes of dry mouth and how to fight.
In addition, it is also important to search for the existence of Hepatitis C, because this infection can cause symptoms very similar to those of Sjögren’s syndrome.
How to treat
The treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome is done mainly to control the symptoms, with the use of eyedrops and lubricants salivas, artificial, in addition to remedies such as anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids or Hydroxychloroquine, for example, to reduce the inflammation, prescribed by the rheumatologist.
Other natural alternatives include chewing sugarless gum, drink water with a few drops of lemon or chamomile tea and consume foods rich in omega-3 like fish, olive oil and flax seed oil. Learn more details of how it is done the treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome.