Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition in which cells attack the glands that produce saliva and tears and other glands, especially those in the digestive tract. The syndrome also presents as a rheumatic disease in that it causes pain and swelling in the joints.
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There are two types: primary Sjögren’s syndrome, and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome. In the first there are problems of dry eyes and mouth caused by attacks on the glands of tears and saliva, respectively. Patients with primary Sjögren’s sometimes have antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in the blood. Secondary Sjögren’s is present with other autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, polymyositis or dermatomyositis, and mixed connective tissue disease.
The main symptoms are most highlighted eyes and dry mouth (along with the related complaints), pain and fatigue in the extremities, rash, and dry skin. It is estimated that there are about four million people with this disorder, of which ninety percent are women. This is a chronic disease usually diagnosed in people over forty years old.
Treatment is focused on decreasing the reactivity of the immune system and on alleviating symptoms. Artificial tears can be employed. Drugs can be used to stimulate secretions and to alleviate the pain of sore muscles and joints.