Have you ever felt a sensation where your mouth and eyes feel extremely dry? If so, you may be suffering from a condition called Sjogren’s Syndrome.
This blog is a complete overview on what is this condition and how it impacts your immune system.
I will also be providing details on the symptoms, causes and risk factors relating to this syndrome.
So let’s get into it right away:
What is Sjorgen’s Syndrome?
So what causes this syndrome anyway?
It is basically known as a condition which affects your immune system.
Now we know how important it is that our immunity remains strong and ongoing. It keeps us healthy and strong and keeps all the elements of the body working in a proper way.
One major thing that happens when your immunity is affected is that your healthy cells get hit on and that causes bacteria and viruses to easily enter your body and cause chaos.
Why? Because your army of healthy cells are not working properly. It is considered an autoimmune disease.
What is the major problem you face: your white blood cells will then attack glands and this part of the body is essential for producing moisture.
So when there is no moisture in the body, you will not be able to produce tears. This leads to dry eyes. Also it causes you to face issues with producing saliva.
And when there are problems with saliva production, you will have a dry mouth.
While this syndrome is long-lasting and there isn’t a complete treatment that can cure it, here’s the good news:
Even if you have this condition, you can still lead a good and healthy life. You can go about your daily routine in a normal way despite suffering from this condition.
Let’s start off the discussion by first looking into what causes Sjorgen’s syndrome.
Who Can Get Sjorgen’s Syndrome?
We already know that this syndrome is an autoimmune disorder.
The major thing and worrisome fact about it, is that your own immune system begins to attack the cells and tissues of the body.
It is still unclear as to why some people suffer from this condition and some don’t.
But usually people who are in the old age are more prone to this condition. Sometimes if you are suffering from a certain virus or bacteria, that can trigger the condition even more and cause you to suffer further.
In this syndrome, the first thing which suffers and is affected are the glands. This directly hits on your body’s capability of producing tears and saliva. However there are other parts of the body which can also be affected by this condition.
This includes your lungs, kidneys, skin, nerves as well as your thyroid.
Now I will talk about the symptoms of this condition in great length:
Symptoms of Sjorgen’s Syndrome
When it comes to knowing about that you might have this condition, the first thing is you will lose complete sense of having any moisture in your eyes or mouth.
Dry mouth is a very common condition and this condition triggers it even further. Another major thing you will feel is having joint pain.
Also women suffer from vaginal dryness for long periods of time. Other common conditions to look out for include:
- tooth decay begins which leads to even more complications and can lead to tooth extraction
- there is a continuous feel of dry mouth
- you will be suffering from a cough which is dry and can get painful at times too
- when it comes to chewing or swallowing your food, it becomes rather difficult
- having a hoarse voice also becomes common
- in severe cases, you will feel difficulty while trying to speak
- having swollen salivary glands is also a common issue
- if you had dental implants recently, you will feel certain unease when eating or moving the jaw
- for those who have been suffering from this syndrome for a longer time, they may be subjected to a fungal infection which makes your mouth dry
For those who have dry eyes, you need to keep a lookout for these associating symptoms which depict that the reason for eye dryness might be more serious than you know. They will also be feeling:
- the feeling that there is sand or gravel in the eyes and you feel continuous irritation
- getting the sensation that your eyes are heavy and you feel like you might be needing to rest for a while
- you feel an itchy sensation and can’t help yourself from continuously rubbing your eyes
- persistent eye dryness is also a common factor relating to this condition pertaining to sjogren’s syndrome
- getting a burning sensation or a sting in the eyes often
- suffering from light sensitivity and you prefer being in areas which are dimly lit
- a blurry vision is also common in this syndrome and you feel very tired
- in certain severe cases, there will also be a discharge of mucus from the eyes which continues on and makes you even more tired and drained
When it comes to the diagnosis of this condition, it becomes tricky.
This is because as you can see there are different symptoms relating to it and relating to the different parts of the body, hence knowing for certainty what is causing it to happen in your body becomes confusing to diagnose.
For instance for your dry mouth, you may be visiting a dentist, for your vaginal dryness you might be going to a gynecologist and for eye dryness, an ophthalmologist.
Hence there is a variety of health care professionals involved in the mix which makes it harder to know if all these symptoms are in fact pointing towards just one common illness.
But the good thing is there is a standard, clinical trial method which can help to determine if these symptoms are in fact pertaining to this syndrome.
The diagnosis is done on the basis of:
- applying continuous drops for three times in a week yet not noticing any major difference
- suffering from dry eyes and dry mouth for over 3 months and there is no major improvement in your condition
- you feel that there is a constant itchiness in the eyes which is not going away despite using drops and medication
- you measure your salivary flow rates to see how are they impacted
- having the results of a focal lymphocytic inflammation from a lip biopsy
Tests for Different Cases of Sjogren’s Syndrome
There are a range of different tests your doctor can prescribe for your condition. This depends on the kinds of symptoms you are facing. You might also be subjected to side effects.
Here is an important fact: from all the symptoms I have listed, it is not necessary that you may be suffering from all of them at the same time.
Let’s now look into some of the most common tests done by doctors on people with sjogren.
Saliva Flow Rate tests
All of these are done in a precise and effective manner to ensure you get a proper diagnosis to determine if you are indeed suffering from this condition or not.
I will not hit upon some of the major complications that can happen if you don’t get a proper treatment for this condition:
Complications of Sjogren’s Syndrome
You will most likely have:
- severe oral yeast infection which doesn’t cure with any medication
- dental problems which get severe with time
- vision issues especially prolonged periods of blurriness
- kidney problems are also severe
- if you are pregnant, chances are that your baby when born will be with certain deficiencies which includes having heart and lupus problems
So now that you have a good understanding of this condition and how it can become severe in certain cases, I will now talk about the treatment.
Sjogren’s Treatment: What You Need to Know
The major thing you need to know is that this condition is that there are various ways in which you can get treatment for this condition.
Some of the major ways in which doctors advise you to manage it well:
- Use medications which will help to stimulate saliva. This can include pilocarpine. However you need to apply them often as their impact is usually short-lived.
- Did you know that there exists saliva substitutes? You can make use of these mouth-coating gels which allow you to relieve the dryness of the mouth . There are different variations like sprays and even mint bits.
- Artificial tears is also quite a common method used. They are really useful in bringing lubrication to the eyes. Also you can adapt prescription eye drops which are stronger in formula but stronger in effect also
- Using throat medications which allow for the respiratory dryness to get a treatment, stimulating saliva flow. Also you can make use of an organic substitute like linseed extract.
- If you are suffering from yeast infections, it is best that you apply some kind of medication which treats the fungal infection in a timely manner.
- In case vaginal dryness, you can make use of lubricants especially when having intercourse.
- NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs -they are most effective and can provide instant relief in case of joint pain.
- DMARDs are more effective drugs when you are also suffering from redness and heavy rash along with the joint pain.
Home-Remedies for Sjogren’s Syndrome
There are also quite a few things you can do right at home to provide you instant relief and keep you lubricated while trigging the production of saliva. These include adapting lubrication tactics like:
- taking in a lot of healthy beverages to keep your mouth nice and moist
- rinsing the mouth on a regular basis so to soothe the area
- adapting good oral and dental hygiene practices
- using fluoride gels
- if you quit smoking, it will serve you a long way
- chewing sugar-free gum is also effective in triggering the production of saliva
- coconut oil is great in its effects when we apply it in dry areas as it leads to strong moistening qualities
To Sum Up
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a common condition which affects your mouth as well as eyes. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications. This is why adapting a timely treatment mechanism is very important. This is especially true in case of aging and dental health issues.
This leads to the production of saliva and can cause moisture to build up too.
This blog post aims to give you a complete overview on this condition and how it can be managed properly.