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What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?

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Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects fluid producing body parts like the nose, mouth and eyes. These are areas that need to stay moist to prevent infection.  The syndrome usually accompanies the autoimmune diseases lupus and arthritis. Half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, although it is likely to affect many more. It can be a lifelong condition, but it is usually discovered in people over 40.

Symptoms

Every person can be affected differently by the syndrome. Women are usually more likely to have the disease than men. The main symptoms are:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth

Alongside these, someone might also suffer from:

  • Rashes (after staying in the sun)
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Muscle pain
  • Tiredness

It is possible to suffer from these symptoms, yet still not have the condition. However, if you’re concerned, we would advise you to see your GP.

Treatment

There is currently no known cure for this disorder. However, there are a few treatments that can help you to manage the symptoms.

Eyes:

  • Prescribed eyedrops
  • Avoid long periods in front of screens
  • Avoid wind in your eyes
  • Clean your eyes

Woman looking at screen

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Mouth:

  • No alcohol and smoking
  • Hygiene (teeth brushing and mouthwash)
  • Drink water
  • Avoid sugary foods

In more severe cases medical options may be necessary.

Glass of water

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How Does It Affect Daily Life?

If dryness in eyes and mouth isn’t treated, it might lead to serious complications such as infections or damage to the eyes and oral area.

Dry eyes can lead to corneal damage, negatively affect your vision and your eyes may become more sensitive to light. If you experience any vision problems, you should visit your optician.

A dry mouth can contribute to tooth cavities, as saliva would usually protect our teeth from harmful bacteria.