Pronounced as show-grins, Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that is estimated to affect as many as four million Americans. Sjögren’s syndrome can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of the disease, but the two most common symptoms that patients experience are dryness of the eyes and mouth.
Sjögren’s is caused when white blood cells in our bodies called lymphocytes attack the glands that are responsible for producing moisture, primarily the tear and salivary glands. The sinuses, airways, and vaginal tissues can all be affected as well. In addition to dry eyes and a dry mouth, those affected by Sjögren’s might also experience one or more of the following less common symptoms:
Sjögren’s can also cause the dysfunction of multiple organs and the central nervous system. Some people may only experience slight discomfort, where others will experience debilitating pain.
A combination of physical exams, blood tests, eye tests, biopsies, and imaging can be used to reach a diagnosis. Nine out of ten people diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome are women, but it affects all ages, races, and genders. The average age of diagnosis is late 40s. This syndrome can also appear alongside other autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Not everyone with Sjögren’s will qualify for this study. There are several criteria patients must meet. Here is a list of the most basic criteria: