Disease Spotlight: Sjögren's Syndrome

Autoimmune Registry strives to be a trusted source of information on autoimmune disease for patients, doctors and researchers.  Our Autoimmune Diseases List is the most complete list available. The list includes every suspected autoimmune and autoimmune-related condition. Not all scientists or doctors agree on which of these diseases are really autoimmune, so we provide links to peer-reviewed papers that support inclusion on the list as well as an indication of how widely accepted the classification is.  There might never be agreement on which diseases are “officially” autoimmune, but we can provide the best data on the current science. Disease Spotlight blog posts like this one increase awareness about each disease.

Today we are featuring Sjögren's syndrome.  Pronounced SHOW-grins — it is also called sicca syndrome.  Symptoms include dry mouth and dry eyes, a burning or “gritty” sensation in the eyes, joint pain, joint stiffness, swollen joints, swollen salivary glands, rashes and dry skin, vaginal dryness and discomfort, persistent dry cough, and intractable fatigue. 

Living with Sjögren's can be physically and emotionally draining, and painful. Like other autoimmune diseases, the patient’s own body is attacking itself, destroying healthy cells, tissues, and organs. With Sjögren's, the immune system attacks and destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva. In some cases, sweat glands and other mucosa or body parts (like the joints) are affected. 

The symptoms of Sjögren’s may be referred to by healthcare providers as keratoconjunctivitis sicca.  Not everyone with these symptoms has Sjögren's and testing is needed to confirm that autoimmunity is the cause. 

The typical age of onset for patients with Sjögren's is around 45 years of age, but it can happen at other ages as well.  Estimates of prevalence have fluctuated over the years. The most current estimate is that 2,128,000 individuals in the United States live with Sjögren's. 

Although some consider Sjögren's to be a rare disease, patients with Sjögren's are not alone and do have resources to which they can turn. We strive to be one of them. In fact, the President of the Autoimmune Registry, Aaron Abend, started this registry because of his own mother’s Sjögren's diagnosis. Other organizations that may be of help to Sjögren's patients include The Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, and patient bloggers like the ones listed here on our Sjögren's Profile. 

If you live with Sjögren's, we would love to hear your story. Feel free to email ashley@autoimmuneregistry.org if you wish to contribute a guest blog about life with Sjögren's syndrome. 

In the meantime check out our Sjögren's fact sheet, here.