Sjogren syndrome is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the immune system in which there is progressive destruction of the salivary and tear glands resulting in dry mouth and dry eyes. The deformity can exist on its own but is usually seen accompanying other immune system disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Sjogren syndrome is more commonly seen after the age of 40 years and is more common in women. The condition is sometimes missed in the elderly, as the main symptoms dry eyes and dry mouth, is thought to be associated with chronic medication or is a part of the aging process.
There are two main symptoms of Sjogren syndrome are :
Other symptoms that may be present include :
Dental caries (tooth cavities) and oral thrush due to an yeast infection are the common complications. Photosensitivity (light sensitivity) due to dryness of the eyes along with redness of the eyes may also be present. Other organ involvement such as kidney, lungs, liver, nerves and lymph nodes may also be present thereby producing symptoms such as impaired kidney function, bronchitis, cirrhosis or numbness and tingling.
Sjogren syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly recognizes the normal tissues of the body as foreign and attacks it. The exact reason why this abnormal immune process commences is not known though genetics factors or previous infections are believed to trigger such a reaction. Initially the autoimmune system targets the exocrine glands (secretory glands) and then later may attack other parts of the body such as thyroid, kidney, liver, lungs or joints of the body.
Blood tests may identify antibodies commonly seen in Sjogren disease. Shirmer test, sialogram, salivary scintography and biopsy help in the diagnosis. Milder symptoms of dry mouth and dry eyes can be treated with sipping water intermittently and over-the-counter eye drops. However, in more severe cases, prescription medication and sometimes even surgery is necessary.
Surgery is generally reserved for severe cases that do not respond well to medication. Surgical intervention may be helpful to treatment dryness of the eyes. It consists of blocking the tear duct that drains tears from the eyes. This can be done by laser or by placing collagen or silicone plugs.