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What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

Sjögren’s syndrome is a disease that causes dry eyes, dry mouth and other symptoms. It happens when the body’s infection-fighting system (called the immune system) attacks glands that keep the eyes, mouth, and other parts of the body moist.

Some people with Sjögren’s syndrome have other immune system conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus or scleroderma.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The main symptoms of Sjögren’s disease are dry eyes and dry mouth.

Dry eye symptoms can include:

  • Eyes that feel dry or burn
  • A sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Blurry vision

If you have a dry mouth, you might:

  • Wake up at night to drink water because your mouth is so dry
  • Need to drink liquids to help swallow dry foods

Other symptoms can include:

  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Tiredness
  • Problems urinating, such as:
    • Pain
    • Urinating more often than usual
    • Getting up a lot at night to urinate
    • Needing to urinate suddenly
  • Vaginal dryness – This can make sex painful.

Your doctor or nurse will learn about your symptoms and examine you. You might also have the following tests:

  • Eye tests – An eye doctor called an “ophthalmologist” can check to see if your eyes are making a normal amount of tears.
  • Blood and urine tests – To check for diseases that people with Sjögren’s syndrome often have or other conditions that could be causing symptoms.
  • Biopsy – A doctor takes a small sample of tissue from inside your lower lip. Then that tissue is examined for signs of Sjögren’s syndrome.

Treatment for dry eyes and dry mouth is important because it can lead to other health problems. If you think you might have Sjögren’s syndrome, call us today at 215-657-6776 for an appointment or call your primary care doctor first if your insurance requires a referral.

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