Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjogren ‘s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defenses attack the body’s own tissues, causing inflammation. It is one of the inflammatory rheumatic diseases. The tear and salivary glands are primarily affected, but the infections can also spread to muscles and joints.

What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?

Sjogren ‘s syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s defense system is no longer directed against harmful invaders from outside, such as bacteria or viruses, but against the body’s own tissue. For what does tall stature mean, please visit etaizhou.info.

Sjögren’s syndrome belongs to the inflammatory rheumatic diseases and to the group of collagen diseases. There are two forms of Sjögren’s syndrome. If only the lacrimal and salivary glands are affected by infections, this is referred to as primary Sjögren’s syndrome.

If the symptoms occur as a side effect of other connective tissue inflammations, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus erythematosus, this is referred to as secondary Sjögren’s syndrome. Sjögren’s syndrome affects women more often than men. The disease is one of the most common inflammatory diseases.

Causes

The causes of Sjögren’s syndrome have not been clearly researched. On the one hand, it is assumed that the predisposition to the disease is inherited, on the other hand, environmental factors or hormonal imbalances are possible triggers.

Other conceivable causes are medication, viral infections or special stresses on the body, such as pregnancy. It is assumed that the body is misprogrammed in a certain way by these processes and produces antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues.

Another explanation assumes that in Sjögren’s syndrome the immune system loses the ability to distinguish foreign cells from the body’s own. This ability is called immune tolerance. However, the reason for the loss of this immune tolerance is not yet known.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Patients with Sjögren’s syndrome mainly suffer from dry mucous membranes. Dry eyes are therefore one of the main symptoms of the disease. Due to the dryness, those affected have the feeling of having a foreign body in their eye. The eyes itch, are red and painful. But not only the eyes, but also the mouth shows a pronounced dryness.

Saliva production is severely limited, so patients have to drink more while eating. This is the only way they can swallow the chewed food at all. Due to the dry mouth, they also feel a constant feeling of thirst. In addition to the salivary and lacrimal glands, other body glands can also be affected. Some patients suffer from vaginal dryness.

The result is a feeling of dryness, burning and itching as well as discomfort during sexual intercourse. Sjögren’s syndrome can also make itself felt through non-specific general symptoms. Those affected are constantly exhausted and tired. This is also referred to as a fatique.

You have trouble concentrating, you have pain in your joints and muscles. Digestive problems can also occur. Another symptom of Sjögren’s syndrome is Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as Raynaud’s disease. These are circulatory disorders in the fingers that are associated with numbness and/or pain.

Diagnosis & History

There are two types of symptoms in Sjögren’s syndrome. If the immune system is only directed against the salivary and lacrimal glands, then one speaks of glandular (affecting the glands) symptoms. This is the case with primary Sjögren’s syndrome.

If the defense also attacks other types of tissue, i.e. if secondary Sjögren’s syndrome is present, the symptoms are called extraglandular (lying outside the glands). The glandular symptoms show up mainly in a dry mouth and dry eyes, which physicians refer to as sicca syndrome (sicca = dry). Other mucous membranes such as the throat, nose or vagina can also be affected by the dryness. The extraglandular symptoms are circulatory disorders with the formation of red patches on the skin, inflammation of the joints and fatigue.

The symptoms usually do not develop until after the age of 40, but since the malfunctioning of the immune system develops only slowly, it is assumed that the disease begins after the age of 20 or 30. However, the symptoms only become noticeable and visible later. The first suspicion of Sjögren’s symptoms arises from the typical symptoms. To be able to make a reliable diagnosis, blood tests are carried out. If Sjögren’s syndrome is present, certain antibodies, rheumatism and inflammatory factors can be detected in the blood.

Complications

Sjögren’s syndrome leads to many different symptoms. First and foremost, those affected suffer from very dry eyes. Since the symptoms are not particularly characteristic and do not directly indicate the disease, there is usually no early diagnosis and treatment. Those affected continue to suffer from a dry mouth and a very pronounced tiredness.

Fatigue and a general feeling of illness can also occur due to the illness and have a very negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. However, the disease also affects the muscles and joints, causing inflammation and severe pain. If the pain also occurs at night, this can lead to sleep problems and irritability or depression in the patient.

Restrictions in movement and thus in everyday life can also occur as a result of Sjögren’s syndrome. A causal treatment of the syndrome is unfortunately not possible. However, the symptoms can be well limited with the help of medication and therapies. There are no particular complications. Unfortunately, it cannot be universally predicted whether the disease will lead to a reduced life expectancy.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since Sjögren’s syndrome is a genetic disease, it must always be treated by a doctor. If the person concerned wishes to have children, a genetic examination and counseling can also be carried out in order to prevent a recurrence in the descendants. Since Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to serious symptoms and complications, a doctor should always be consulted if the symptoms indicate this syndrome.

A doctor should be consulted for this syndrome if dry and reddened eyes occur. In many cases, those affected have the permanent feeling that they have a foreign body in their eye. Permanent itching in the eyes can also indicate this disease. In women, Sjögren’s syndrome can manifest itself as a dryness of the vagina. A doctor should also be consulted if this is a problem. Digestive problems or circulatory disorders are also indicators of Sjögren’s syndrome. If the syndrome is suspected, a general practitioner can be consulted. Further treatment is then usually carried out by a specialist.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome is aimed at relieving the symptoms, as there is still no curative therapy for autoimmune diseases. You just try to suppress the defense system to prevent further attacks on your own body. This is done with medication such as cortisone.

Ointments or drops are prescribed against dryness in the eyes. There are special mouthwashes or gels for dry oral mucosa. You can also stimulate saliva production by sucking on sweets and take small sips of water throughout the day to moisten the mucous membranes. In the case of particularly pronounced symptoms, medication is used to stimulate tear and saliva production.

In addition, careful oral hygiene is necessary, as there is an increased risk of caries in Sjögren’s syndrome. If secondary Sjögren’s syndrome is present, the underlying disease and the inflammatory processes in the joints are also treated. Pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs are used here. Overall, the treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome usually requires the use of several specialists such as a dentist, rheumatologist, ophthalmologist, gynecologist and ear, nose and throat specialist.

Prevention

It is not possible to prevent Sjögren’s syndrome, especially since the exact causes are not yet known. But you can strengthen the immune system through a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise and a balanced diet.

Aftercare

Since it is a genetic disease, it cannot usually be completely cured. Therefore, those affected should consult a doctor at the first symptoms of the disease and initiate treatment to prevent the occurrence of further symptoms and complications. It cannot heal on its own.

If you wish to have children, a genetic examination and counseling should be carried out in any case to prevent the syndrome from recurring in the offspring. Most of those affected are dependent on various surgical interventions with this disease, through which the symptoms can be alleviated and limited.

The person concerned should definitely rest after such an operation and protect his body. Physical exertion or stressful activities should be avoided in order not to unnecessarily burden the body. Furthermore, the help and support of one’s own family is usually very useful.

This often prevents and limits the development of depression and other mental disorders. In some cases, Sjogren’s syndrome can also reduce the life expectancy of the sufferer. However, the further course of this disease depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, so that a general course cannot be given.

You can do that yourself

The course of Sjögren’s syndrome is characterized by chronic inflammation. In everyday life, lifestyle should be optimized to support the immune system.

The body’s own defense system can be mobilized by a balanced diet rich in vitamins. Avoiding the consumption of harmful substances such as alcohol and nicotine is helpful in overcoming the disease. In addition, obesity should be avoided and adequate exercise has a beneficial effect on health. The organism must be protected from further infections. Protective measures should therefore be taken in good time, particularly when the weather or seasons change, and the risk of infection should be minimised.

Since sexual contact with a partner can cause inconvenience, the partner should be informed in good time about the disease and the existing symptoms. This avoids unpleasant situations in everyday life and prevents misunderstandings.

Psychotherapeutic treatment can help if the person concerned needs emotional support to cope with the illness. In addition, mental strength must be strengthened, since emotional problems inevitably spread to the entire organism. Circulatory disorders are common. For this reason, adopting a rigid posture should be avoided and compensating movements should be carried out at the first sensory disturbances on the skin.

Sjögren’s Syndrome