Sjögren’s syndrome (pronounced show-grins) is an incurable, autoimmune disease that affects between 200,000 and 400,000 Canadians. Nine out of 10 people are women – typically over the age of 50 years.
In Sjögren’s, the body’s immune system attacks the moisture-producing glands. Lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) then attack and destroy these glands causing painfully dry eyes and mouth. Sjögren’s can also cause dryness of the skin, nose and vagina. It can affect organs such as the kidney, gastrointestinal tract, blood vessels, lung, liver, pancreas and central nervous system. It is an all invasive disease.
When Sjögren’s syndrome occurs alone with no other connective tissue disease (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia), it is called primary Sjögren’s. Secondary Sjögren’s occurs when a patient has a connective tissue disease and later develops Sjögren’s. The prevalence of primary and secondary Sjögren’s is about equal.
While there is no known cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, many of the symptoms can be treated with simple corrective measures along with over-the-counter and prescription medications.
This text was prepared for information and support. Please consult your doctor regarding your personal medical treatment.