Sjogren’s Syndrome Symptoms, Cause, Diagnosis, Complications, Diet and Treatments Options to Go for
Sjogren’s syndrome, also goes by the name sicca syndrome and is a long term autoimmune disorder that affects the major fluid-producing organs in the body. It occurs when your immune system or your white blood cells attack healthy organs in the body. The reason for this attack is unknown and two of the most common organs attacked are the salivary and the tear glands, resulting in reduced tears and saliva production.
Sjogren’s syndrome is usually a serious health condition, however, while it can’t be cured, if diagnosed early with treatment started in time, the symptoms become much easier to manage
Here are some key facts about Sjogren’s or sicca syndrome you should know:
10 Top Facts about Sjogren’s or Sicca Syndrome
1.Sicca syndrome typically causes inflammation of the tissues and organs it invades.
2.Most cases of this autoimmune disorder happens to women as about 90% cases have been reported as happening to women.
3.Sjogren’s syndrome could sometimes be hard to diagnose since most of its symptoms mimic other autoimmune diseases.
4.Saliva-gland biopsy is a test done to check for Sjogren’s syndrome and is one of the most common tests carried out.
5.Sjogren’s could affect other major organs of the body like the liver, blood vessels, gastrointestinal system, pancreas, kidney, and the central nervous system, making them malfunction.
6.Sjorgren’s is one of the most common autoimmune disorder with 4,000,000 Americans diagnosed of it.
7.People diagnosed of sicca syndrome have a 5% risk of developing lymphoma.
8.Since Sjogren’s has no cure, symptoms could either remain the same, get worse or go into remission.
9.Diagnosis of Sjogren’s sometimes isn’t immediate and could take as long as 2 years eight months
Known Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome
This disorder comes with a few symptoms and two of the most common ones include dry eyes and dry mouth. These are the primary symptoms caused by a reduction in the production of tears.
Other symptoms you can expect to see include:
- Sensitivity to smoke, light and fumes,
- Difficulties swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Cracked tongue
- Sore mouth
- Hoarse voice
- Dry or peeling lips
- Swollen salivary glands
- Dry cough
- Constant thirst
- Heavy eyes
- Persistent dry eyes
- Irritated and swollen eyelids
- Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
- Irritable bowel
- Nausea and upset stomach
- Joint stiffness and muscle aches
- Dry nose
- Recurrent sinusitis
- Recurrent tooth decay
- Sore mouth
- Digestive problems
- Blurred vision
- Brain fog
- Extreme and prolonged fatigue
- Itchy, sandy feelings in the eyes
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Frequent bouts of infection
- Numbness in your hands and feet
- Vagina dryness
- Dry or burning sensation in the throat
- Changed taste or smell
What Causes Sjogren’s Syndrome
There is no evidence as to what causes Sjogren’s syndrome, however, there is some speculations development of this disease is tied to certain genetic or environmental factors. Scientists believe having some specific genes or having an infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria play a role in the development and could increase your risk of this disorder.
Sjogren’s syndrome typically begins in the salivary and tear glands, but its destruction could get to to other organs like your kidneys, liver, lungs, joints, nerves and thyroid.
Risk Factors of Sjogren’s or Sicca Syndrome
Any one can develop this disorder, however, certain factors place you at a higher risk of it and these include:
- Being a female
- Being aged 40 years and above
- Haven had a rheumatic disease
- Having a family history of one or more autoimmune diseases
Complications of Sjogren’s Syndrome
While the most frequent complications of this disorder happen to the eyes and mouth, other complications include:
Frequent Dental Cavities
Which is to be expected considering the reduction in saliva which work to shield the teeth from bacteria that cause tooth decay can promote the development of dental cavities.
Since tears or moisture are also produced for a reason, constantly having dry eyes will promote the development of vision issues like sensitivity to light, blurred vision and corneal damage.
You also have a high risk of developing one or more frequent infections such as oral thrush, eye infections, dental infections, bronchitis and vaginitis
Lung and Kidney Problems
Inflammation of your lungs could also cause lung and breathing issues such as pneumonia, bronchitis, obstructive long disease, and interstitial lung disease.
Other problems such as kidney and liver problems like hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver could also occur.
There’s also some risk of coming down with nerves complications like numbness, tingling or burning in your hands and feet.
How is Sjogren’s Syndrome Diagnosed
Sjogren’s or sicca syndrome is a bit tough to diagnose as symptoms could mimics other diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and chronic fatigue syndrome. To get a correct diagnose this disease your rheumatologist would need to conduct a few tests which include:
- A series of blood tests which include an ANA (Anti-Nuclear Antibody) test, an RF (Rheumatoid Factor) test, a SS-A (or Ro) and SS-B (or La) test, ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) test, and an IGs (Immunoglobulins).
- Ophthalmologic (eye) tests which include the Schirmer Test to measure tear production and the Rose Bengal and Lissamine Green test.
- Dental tests include the Salivary Flow test and the Salivary scintigraphy test
The Right Diet for Sjogren’s Syndrome
There is no one diet for this autoimmune disorder, however, eating foods that have a high water content as well as reducing diuretic foods such as tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, watercress, cucumbers, and carrots can help you retain more water.
You should also eat foods in this classes: vegetables, fruits, fibers, liquid, moist foods, organic meat, protein, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and alternate milk (milk made from other sources like almonds, rice, coconut and cashews are great substitutes).
Treatment for Sjogren’s Syndrome
Since Sjogren’s syndrome has no cure, you are left with seeking treatments that will adequately manage the symptoms to bring you relief. Here are some management options available for this autoimmune disorder:
- Making use of prescription eyedrops like cyclosporine or lifitegrast to combat inflammation and dry eyes.
- Making use of medications like pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac) to boost saliva production.
- Making use of artificial saliva and mouth-coating gels available in different forms like sprays, liquids to solve the problem of mouth dryness.
- The use of antifungal drugs and creams to treat fungal infections.
- Making use of vaginal lubricants and other moisturizers to ease the issue of vaginal dryness.
- Prescription expectorants and throat medications to manage issues of respiratory dryness or sore throat.
Fast Ways to Manage Sjogren’s Syndrome
For fast relief from the discomfort this autoimmune disorder brings, here are some quick tips you can adopt:
- Drink lots of fluids often to make up for the little your body produces.
- Ditch smoking as it has been known to promote saliva evaporation.
- Chew a sugar-free gum which is known to boost saliva production.
- Make use of coconut oil as a moisturizer or substitute for vaginal moisturizer.