Has your mouth been feeling overly dry lately, no matter how much you drink? Have your eyes also been feeling dry and irritated? There are many possible explanations for these symptoms, but one distinct possibility is that you've developed Sjogren's syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease. Here's a closer look at this condition:
What causes Sjogren's syndrome?
Auto-immune disorders consist of your body's immune system attacking its own cells in the same way it is meant to attack dangerous bacteria and viruses. In the case of Sjogren's syndrome, your body's immune system focuses on attacking the mucous membranes, such as those in your mouth and eyes.
Nobody knows for sure what triggers the change in the immune system associated with Sjogren's syndrome. There may be a hereditary component, meaning that you are at an increased risk of this condition if someone else in your family has it. There's also a theory that an unidentified virus or bacterial strain causes the condition to develop.
What other symptoms does Sjogren's syndrome cause?
The dry eyes and mouth are usually the first symptoms people notice. If you seek treatment early, these might be the only symptoms you ever experience. But if you delay seeking treatment, you may develop other symptoms like a persistent cough, vaginal dryness, and swollen salivary glands. The condition can eventually begin attacking your vital organs, leading to problems like ongoing fatigue, joint pain, and stomach upset, and jaundice.
How is Sjogren's syndrome treated?
If you believe you may have Sjogren's syndrome, you should visit an immune specialist. They can run a few simple blood tests to determine if you do, in fact, have this auto-immune condition. Your doctor may also take a biopsy of your lip to test for certain inflammatory cells that indicate you have Sjogren's syndrome.
To treat Sjogren's syndrome, your doctor may recommend a medication like a pilocarpine to increase saliva production and tear production. You may also be given eye drops to make your eyes more comfortable if they feel dry. In more serious cases, a drug like methotrexate, which regulates the immune system, may be prescribed.
There is no cure for Sjogren's syndrome, so the treatments above focus on preventing it from worsening and on easing the symptoms. In rare cases, patients do experience spontaneous remission in which the disorder disappears as quickly as it developed. But doctors are not sure what causes this or how to induce remission.
Contact a medical office like The Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, PC for more information and assistance.Share
29 November 2017
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