Sjogren’s syndrome is named after Dr. Henrik Sjogren, who first identified it. It is a common autoimmune disorder, typically occurring in women. In Sjogren’s syndrome, the body’s immune cell go rogue and start attacking various exocrine glands, which are glands that pour their secretions into a duct. Most commonly the salivary glands and the lacrimal, or tear glands.
Normally the cells of the immune system are ready to spot and destroy anything foreign that cause the body harm. Immune cells called antigen-presenting cells, which include macrophages and dendritic cells, latch onto pathogens and engulf them- literally swallowing them up. Pieces of the pathogen called antigens are then presented on a major histocompatibility complex class II molecule, or MHC- class II molecule.
- What is Sjogren’s syndrome
Sjogren’s is a chronic autoimmune rheumatic disease, and it is related to lupus or rheumatoid arthritis because there is a lot of overlapping clinical and serological manifestation. The body’s immune system attacks the moisture-producing glands, so some of the most important symptoms are dryness like dryness of the eyes, mouth, and the other parts of the body.
Like other rheumatic diseases, it causes inflammatory fatigue, joint, and muscle pain, and it can also affect the internal organs so virtually any organ can be affected. It causes three characteristic symptoms one is Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, the second is Xerostomia, and third is Arthritis. It usually occurs with onset between the age of 40 and 60 years old. It is caused by lymphocytic infiltration of salivary and lacrimal glands.
There is two types of Sjogren’s syndrome; one is considered primary- primary Sjogren’s syndrome is not linked with the additional condition. Secondary Sjogren’s syndrome is secondary to another condition; some of that condition can include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and HIV.
The glandular manifestations are those sick symptoms; sick symptoms are dry symptoms, which explains the dry eyes, and dry mouth. The complications from having dry eyes are that they have increased the risk for Blepharitis, so inflammation of the eyelids is generally due to an infection by Staphylococcus. The dry mouth increases the risk for Dental Caries, Oral Candidiasis, Angular Cheilitis.
The extra-glandular manifestations can include arthralgias and arthritis so that would be the third symptom; it can also include other symptoms. Females are affected more than males, and usually, these females are middle-aged. They suffer from Alopecia- which means hair loss, dry skin, dry eyes, a dry nose that can cause the diminished smell, dry mouth, a dry respiratory tract that can cause cough and dry vagina.
- What causes the dryness in Sjogren’s
The patient who has Sjogren’s syndrome, their body does not produce any moisture. No saliva, no tears.
Basically, there is no duplication anywhere; their skin is very dry; they don’t cry because there are no tears being formed, and there is no saliva in their mouth.
It is a side effect of a lot of medications, but it can also be a disease in itself which a lot of people don’t think that they have.
They just think that they have a dry mouth; they think that they just need to drink more water. Which sometimes they drink a gallon of water but they still drive.
Dryness can be very bad because when they don’t have tears from their eyes.
Their eyes become very dry so all that itchiness and the dryness could damage the cornea and their eye.
Having no saliva in their mouth really damages their teeth because they need saliva to wash the bacteria in their mouth basically.
Dry skin is another thing it is very itchy; it can be misdiagnosed disease.
As their immune system goes into overdrive it first attacks when it comes to Sjogren’s is, it attacks their perspiration producing glands.
- How do health care professionals diagnose Sjogren’s syndrome
Sjogren’s syndrome is actually underlying, but, it’s primarily the dryness of the eyes and mouth that leads someone to think first about Sjogren’s syndrome.
Ones that suspicion is there then a rheumatologist will often due blood test looking for characteristics.
So, the diagnosis requires that they partly confirm that in fact, there is a deficiency of tears, saliva production.
Doing special tests of the eyes, doing special measurements of how much saliva is being produced, but it also may require actually a biopsy from the lip look for the characteristic information.
Antibodies are medium produced by the immune system to attack germs.
In Sjogren’s syndrome, the immune system produces antibodies which attack the fit area.
For checking the layer of tears, an eye doctor (OPHTHALMOLOGIST) may do a test to look at the layer of tears that forms across the front of their eyes.
This involves non-toxic colored drops being placed in their eyes so that the layer of tears are visible effortlessly.
For checking the saliva, an extremely small piece of tissue from the inside of their lip is removed and looked at under a microscope.
This is studied as a lip biopsy. Another test like spit test- they spit their saliva in a cup for over a few minutes and later the amount is measured.
For measuring tears, the doctor provides small strips of paper which are placed in their lower eyelid for above few minutes to see the amount of the paper is soaked with tears.
There is some key to heal Sjogren’s syndrome; they associated with loss of taste sometimes a loss of smell.
There’s fatigue as there is with a lot of autoimmune disorders and autoimmune means their immune system is attacking their body.
Key number one- complete hormone testing, especially with Pregnenolone, a lot of doctors are addressing autoimmune conditions.
There’s currently no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome, but there is a treatment that can help relieve the symptoms.
Nowadays, there is Symptom Tracker, which helps in tracking the symptoms. Avoid sugary food and drinks, and avoid snacking between meals.
Symptom Tracker helps them by keeping the record of food, medication, and many more.
To read more on topics like this, check out the lifestyle category.