Sjögren's Syndrome

Topic Overview

What is Sjögren's syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome (say "SHOH-grins") is a disease in which the immune system attacks the glands that make moisture for the body, such as tears and saliva. The damage keeps the glands from working the way they should and makes your eyes and mouth dry.

The disease may also cause other problems, such as fatigue and pain in the joints. In rare cases, it can damage the lungs, kidneys, and nerves.

Anyone can get Sjögren's, but it's most common in white women who are in their 40s and 50s.

What causes Sjögren's syndrome?

Doctors don't know what causes Sjögren's syndrome, but it tends to run in families. It may also occur along with other health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome are very dry eyes and mouth that last for at least 3 months and are not caused by medicines. You may have itching and burning in your eyes. Your mouth may feel very dry, as though it is full of cotton.

How is Sjögren's syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she will also ask about any medicines you're taking that could cause dry eyes and mouth. If needed, you may also have tests to:

  • Measure tear flow.
  • Measure saliva.
  • Check for antibodies in your blood.

How is it treated?

Your treatment for Sjögren's syndrome will depend on how the disease affects you over time. In most cases, treatment will focus on helping you control your symptoms.

Using artificial teardrops, mouth lubricants, and saliva substitutes can help moisten your eyes, mouth, and throat. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines such as:

Stronger medicines may be recommended if these treatments do not control your symptoms.

There are also many things you can do at home to manage symptoms.

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
NIH Neurological Institute
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD  20824
Phone: 1-800-352-9424
Phone: (301) 496-5751
TDD: (301) 468-5981
Web Address: www.ninds.nih.gov
 

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is the leading U.S. federal government agency supporting research on brain and nervous system disorders. It provides the public with educational materials and information about these disorders.


American College of Rheumatology
2200 Lake Boulevard NE
Atlanta, GA  30319
Phone: (404) 633-3777
Fax: (404) 633-1870
Web Address: www.rheumatology.org
 

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP, a division of ACR) are professional organizations of rheumatologists and associated health professionals who are dedicated to healing, preventing disability from, and curing the many types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members of the ACR are physicians; members of the ARHP include research scientists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. Both the ACR and the ARHP provide professional education for their members.

The ACR website offers patient information fact sheets about rheumatic diseases, about medicines used to treat rheumatic diseases, and about care professionals.


National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Information Office
31 Center Drive MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD  20892-2510
Phone: (301) 496-5248
Email: 2020@nei.nih.gov
Web Address: www.nei.nih.gov
 

As part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Eye Institute provides information on eye diseases and vision research. Publications are available to the public at no charge. The Web site includes links to various information resources.


National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), National Institutes of Health
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD  20892-3675
Phone: 1-877-22-NIAMS (1-877-226-4267) toll-free
Phone: (301) 495-4484
Fax: (301) 718-6366
TDD: (301) 565-2966
Email: niamsinfo@mail.nih.gov
Web Address: www.niams.nih.gov
 

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public and health professionals by providing information, locating other information sources, and participating in a national federal database of health information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of scientists to carry out this research.

The NIAMS website provides health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information packages about diseases.


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892-2190
Phone: (301) 496-4261
Fax: (301) 480-4098
Email: nidcrinfo@mail.nih.gov
Web Address: www.nidcr.nih.gov
 

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is a governmental agency that provides information about oral, dental, and craniofacial health. By conducting and supporting research, the NIDCR aims to promote health, prevent diseases and conditions, and develop new diagnostics and therapeutics.


Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation
6707 Democracy Boulevard
Suite 325
Bethesda, MD  20817
Phone: 1-800-475-6473
Fax: (301) 530-4415
Web Address: www.sjogrens.com
 

This nonprofit foundation educates both health professionals and people with Sjögren's syndrome about the disease. It also produces and distributes educational materials, including The Moisture Seekers newsletter, handbooks, videos, and medical articles. A network of chapters, support groups, and contacts organizes meetings, participates in health fairs, increases awareness in communities, and promotes local media campaigns. The foundation sponsors educational programs, symposia, and workshops, and advocates for research and treatment centers.


References

Other Works Consulted

  • Jonsson R, et al. (2005). Sjögren's syndrome. In WJ Koopman, LW Moreland, eds., Arthritis and Allied Conditions: A Textbook of Rheumatology, 15th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1681–1705. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Ramos-Casals M, et al. (2010). Treatment of primary Sjogren's syndrome. JAMA, 304(4): 452–460.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised April 27, 2012

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