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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Primary Sjogren Syndrome; Secondary Sjogren Syndrome)

Definition

Sjogren syndrome is a disorder that causes the immune system to destroy the glands that make tears and saliva. There are two types:

Salivary Glands
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Causes

The cause is not known. Genetics, the environment, and hormones may play a role.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in women. It usually starts in those who are 40 to 55 years of age.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Certain genetic markers
  • Having other family members who have autoimmune diseases
  • Viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Eyes that are red, burning, itching, and dry
  • Dry mouth
  • Problems swallowing
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Dry skin, nose, and throat
  • Swollen glands in the head
  • Vaginal dryness in women
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Lack of energy

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist. You may also be referred to a dentist for an exam.

Your eyes may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Schirmer test to measure tear production
  • Slit-lamp exam

Blood tests will be done to look for antibodies linked to this syndrome.

Images of the salivary gland may be taken. This can be done with:

  • Scintagraphy
  • Sialography
  • Ultrasound

Salivary gland tissue may need to be tested. This can be done with a biopsy.

Treatment

There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:

  • Medicines to ease:
    • Dryness
    • Joint and muscle pain
    • Swelling
  • Lifestyle changes, such as drinking plenty of fluids and exercising regularly

People with severe dry eye may need surgery. A plug may be placed in the tear ducts to stop fluid from draining from the eyes.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.  http://www.aarda.org 

Sjogren's Foundation  http://www.sjogrens.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

MyHealth.Alberta.ca  https://myhealth.alberta.ca/ 

References

Sjogren syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sjogren-syndrome. Accessed March 2, 2021.

Sjogren's syndrome information page. National institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Sj%C3%B6grens-Syndrome-Information-Page. Accessed March 2, 2021.

Vivino FB. Sjogren's syndrome: Clinical aspects. Clin Immunol. 2017 Sep;182:48-54.

2/22/2017 EBSCO DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sjogren-syndrome: Luciano N, Baldini, Tarantini G, et al. Ultrasonography of major salivary glands: a highly specific tool for distinguishing primary Sjögren's syndrome from undifferentiated connective tissue diseases. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015;54(12):2198-2204.

8/1/2019 EBSCO DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sjogren-syndrome: Singh JA, Cleveland JD. The risk of Sjogren's syndrome in the older adults with gout: A medicare claims study. Joint Bone Spine. 2019 Feb 7 [Epub ahead of print].

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2020
  • Update Date: 03/02/2021