Sjögren’s syndrome (“SHOW-grins”), is a chronic incurable disease of the immune system that affects about 1% of the general population. Women account for 90% of diagnosed cases. The disease most often appears after the age of 45, but it is also seen in children and young adults.
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 information is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for a consultation with a health care professional.