Sjögren’s Syndrome Information

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the glands that produce tears and saliva (exocrine glands).  Although the characteristic symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system.  Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.  With upwards of 4,000,000 Americans suffering from Sjögren’s Syndrome, it is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders.  Nine out of 10 patients are women.

All instances of Sjögren’s Syndrome are systemic, affecting the entire body.  Symptoms may remain steady, worsen, or, uncommonly, go into remission.  While some people experience mild discomfort, others suffer debilitating symptoms that greatly impair their functioning.  Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important — they may prevent serious complications and greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.

Common symptoms of autoimmune diseases include inflammation, fatigue, dizziness, malaise, elevated fever and high body temperature, extreme sensitivity to cold in the hands and feet, weakness and stiffness in muscles and joints, weight changes, digestive or gastrointestinal problems, low or high blood pressure, irritability, anxiety or depression, infertility or reduced sex drive (low libido), blood sugar, changes.  Depending on the type of autoimmune disease, an increase in the size of an organ or tissue or the destruction of an organ or tissue can result.  Since symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome mimic other conditions and diseases, Sjögren’s can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed.  On average, it takes nearly seven years to receive a diagnosis of Sjögren’s Syndrome.  Patients need to remember to be pro-active in talking with their physicians and dentists about their symptoms and potential treatment options.

Since the disease was first identified in 1933 by Dr. Henrik Sjögren, it has been proven to affect virtually every racial and ethnic group.  General awareness about Sjögren’s Syndrome is still lacking and increased professional awareness is needed to help expedite new diagnoses and treatment options.

Dr. James G. Hood, D.D.S. has begun a blog, www.sjogrensblog.org, for the purpose of sharing information about Sjögren’s Syndrome, himself being a Sjögren’s patient, has helped diagnose Sjögren’s Syndrome in his patients.  The purpose of this blog is to provide a platform for those who have been diagnosed with or think they may have Sjögren’s Syndrome, so that they may find help, information, and support from others.  This blog will also provide information to the family and friends of those who suffer from this disorder.

If you have any of the above symptoms, tell your health care practitioner.  Also if you have any changes in your oral or dental health, dry mouth, or irritation, please call Dr. James G. Hood at Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, D.D.S.



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