Sjögren syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed. This causes dry mouth and dry eyes. The condition may affect other parts of the body, including the kidneys and lungs.
The cause of Sjögren syndrome is unknown. It is an autoimmune disorder. This means the body attacks healthy tissue by mistake. The syndrome occurs most often in women ages 40 to 50. It is rare in children.
Primary Sjögren syndrome is defined as dry eyes and dry mouth without another autoimmune disorder.
Secondary Sjögren syndrome occurs along with another autoimmune disorder, such as:
Dry eyes may be treated with artificial tears, eye-lubricating ointments, or cyclosoporine liquid.
Tiny plugs can be placed in the tear drainage ducts to help the tears stay on the surface of the eye.
Disease modifying drugs (DMARDs) similar to those used for rheumatoid arthritis may improve the symptoms of Sjögren syndrome. These include tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibiting drugs such as Enbrel, Humira or Remicaide.
Some things you can do to ease symptoms include:
Sip water throughout the day
Chew sugarless gum
Avoid medicines that can cause mouth dryness, such as antihistamines and decongestants
Talk with your dentist about:
Mouth rinses to replace minerals in your teeth
Drugs that help your salivary glands make more saliva
To prevent dental decay that can be caused by mouth dryness:
Brush and floss your teeth often
Visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings
The disease is usually not life-threatening. The outcome depends on what other diseases you have.
There is a higher risk of lymphoma when Sjörgen syndrome has been very active for a long time.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of Sjögren syndrome.
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Kruszka P, O'Brian RJ. Diagnosis and management of Sjogren syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:465-470.
Wu AJ. Optimizing dry mouth treatment for individuals with Sjögren's syndrome. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2008 Nov;34(4):1001-10, x.
Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.