Sjögren’s (“SHOW-grins”) is a systemic, chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. The most common symptoms are dry mouth and dry eyes, but Sjögren’s also has many other serious symptoms that affect the entire body. Along with systems of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas. Also with this disease, no two people have the exact same set of symptoms.
Sjögren’s often occurs with other such disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. On average it takes three years to receive a Sjögren’s diagnosis. As many as four million Americans have Sjögren’s, with an estimated two and a half million currently undiagnosed. It can occur in all age groups, but frequency appears to increase with age. The average age to be diagnosed is forty. Nine out of ten Sjögren’s patients are WOMEN.
+ a dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes
+ a sore or cracked tongue
+ a change in taste or smell
+ vaginal and skin dryness
+ debilitating fatigue
+ stomach upset, irritable bowel
+ dry mouth
+ dry or burning throat
+ increased dental decay
+ digestive problems
+ swollen, painful parotid/salivary glands
+ difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing
+ dry or peeling lips
+ joint and muscle pain
+ dry nose, nose bleeds
YOUR POINT OF CONTACT
ABOUT | I received my Sjögren’s diagnosis the day after I turned twenty-three. After the shock, fear, and a lot of Google searching, I started a new journey in my life that I never imagined or wanted to be on. This wasn’t in my “life plan.” But hey, sometimes you got to make lemonade out of thin air. Hopefully, we can use what I’ve learned over the last five years, and continue to learn, to help you.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES | Sjögren’s Disease
+ Primary Care Provider
+ ANA (Anti-Nuclear Antibody)
+ RF (RheumatoidFactor)
+ SS-A (or Ro) and SS-B (or La)
+ ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)
+ IGs (Immunoglobulins)
+ All of the tests above are possibilities to help you get your diagnosis, but these are not definite. You could have Sjogren’s and these tests could come back negative for you. That’s why it is very important to be honest with your doctor about your symptoms and have a doctor you trust and that listens to you.
+ Also, my rheumatologist runs a full blood panel and work up, which checks my inflammation and everything, every time I go in for a check up, which for me is twice a year. But remember, every patient is different. You may only need to go once a year or four times a year, it just depends. When I first got diagnosed I was going to my doctor every four weeks.
+ immunosuppressive medications can be prescribed to treat internal organ manifestations
+ over the counter and/or prescribed eye drops
+ over the counter and/or prescribed products for dry mouth
+ moisturizing gels or vitamin E oil for dry or sore parts of the mouth or tongue
+ turmeric curcumin supplements have many benefits but I’ve been able to tell a big difference in how they’ve helped with my joint pain
METHODS OF HEALING
For swollen or infected salivary gland: try massaging the area, sucking on some sour hard candy, and drinking lots of water. I even like using those jade rollers that are so popular right now, they fit great on the jaw line and massage the area very well. And of course, if it gets too painful or swollen then go see a doctor and they can prescribe you something.
For dry eyes: keep eyes drops with you all the time, but if it’s bad and you’re at home then put a cold compress on your eyes. But if your eyelids are dry and red and inflamed then a warm compress is better.
For dry skin: put moisturizer on immediately after getting out of the shower, avoid fabric softeners. My hands are the driest part of me, so I always have really good lotion with me for them.
For dry mouth: of course drinking as much water as possible everyday for the rest of your life would help with not only dry mouth, but also your skin, glands, everything. But I will be honest with you, I’m not always great about drinking my water, so I won’t judge you for not drinking yours. Chewing gum, moisturizing spray and gels.
For fatigue: pace yourself and know your limits, but still get exercise and have the life you want. Educate the people in your life so they know what you’re going through.
Here are some great websites, authors, podcasts and other resources to help you navigate your Autoimmune Disease.
These are the women that have shared their autoimmune journey with us. Please take a moment to read some of their brave, honest and revealing stories about their diagnosis, successes, hardships and their lives.