Sjögren's Syndrome

"Its cause is unknown and it affects women more than men".

DR. EUGENIA ENRÍQUEZ MERAYO
SPECIALIST. RHEUMATOLOGY SERVICE

Sjögren's syndrome or dry syndrome is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the involvement of the exocrine glands, which are those that pour their secretion outward.

In this disease the most affected glands are the salivary and lacrimal glands.

In general, it is a disease of benign prognosis, with the exception of patients who present organ involvement, in which the prognosis worsens notably, as well as those patients who develop a serious complication such as lymphoma.

For most patients with symptoms derived from their dry syndrome, even if they are not cured, the symptomatic treatment allows a life with acceptable quality.

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What are the symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome?

The symptoms of this disease are due to the destruction and poor function of the affected glands. Therefore, the most frequent are dry mouth and eyes.

The ocular dryness, by the affectation of the lacrimal glands, produces ocular itching or stinging, sensation of grit, ocular pain, whereas the oral dryness is manifested fundamentally by sensation of thirst, difficulty for the mastication, itching in the tongue, that usually is reddened, and greater incidence of dental cavities.

There can be a sensation of nasal dryness and cough, due to the dryness of the respiratory tree, as well as vaginal dryness, with itching and pain with sexual relations. Other symptoms that can appear associated with this disease are joint pains and, in some patients, there can be affectation of the lung, the kidneys or the nervous system.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Ocular dryness.

Due to its condition of autoimmune disease, it can be associated with other diseases of this type, especially thyroid diseases.

This syndrome can also appear in people who suffer from rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which case it is called secondary Sjögren's syndrome.  Although it is very rare, these patients have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have Sjögren's syndrome

¿Cuáles son las causas del síndrome de Sjögren?

This disease has an unknown etiology, that is, its cause is not known. The existence in patients with Sjögren's syndrome of some alterations of the immune system, with presence in many cases of auto-antibodies, makes think that it is an auto-immune disease, but the trigger is not known.

The most probable is that in patients genetically predisposed, some external stimulus, not yet known, initiates a process of reaction of the immune system against the cells of the exocrine glands, which is what conditions the development of the disease.

Who can suffer from Sjögren's syndrome?

This disease can affect anyone at any age, although it is much more frequent in women (up to nine times more frequent than in men) and between 30 and 50 years of age.

Although due to its difficult diagnosis there are no appropriate statistics, it is thought to be a common disease, which can affect up to 1% of the population.

How is Sjögren's syndrome diagnosed?

<p>&nbsp;Imagen Laboratorio de Bioquimica</p>

As the cause of this disease is not known, the diagnosis is based mainly on clinical and analytical data.

There are several methods to evaluate the oral affectation (sialography and gammagraphy) and the ocular dryness (Schimer's test, Rose Bengal test).

The analyses can show alterations, not very specific, such as an increase in the gamma globulins or the presence of rheumatoid factor, and the presence of autoantibodies is also common, such as the antinuclear antibodies and the more specific antibodies of this disease, anti-Ro and anti-La.

In some cases, the biopsy of the minor salivary glands can also help the diagnosis.

How is Sjögren's syndrome treated?

There is no curative treatment for this disease, and there is not even one that is capable of preventing its progression, so the treatment is only aimed at relieving the symptoms.

Dry mouth can be relieved by some oral hygiene measures, and the use of some drugs, such as bromhexine or pilocarpine.

Relief of dry eyes is achieved by administering methylcellulose artificial tear drops in the form of eye drops.

Only in cases of significant organ involvement, such as lung, kidney or nervous system, may be indicated the use of drugs such as corticosteroids or other immunosuppressants.

Where do we treat it?

IN NAVARRA AND MADRID

The Rheumatology Service
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Rheumatology Service has a multidisciplinary team highly specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatological diseases, from osteoarthritis, arthritis or osteoporosis to autoimmune or inflammatory diseases.

In addition, we have doctors specialized in assisting pregnant women with autoimmune diseases, in order to guarantee the maximum safety of the fetus.

Organized in specialized units

  • Inflammatory arthropathies.
  • Degenerative arthropathies.
  • Microcrystalline arthropathies.
  • Bone pathology.
  • Systemic autoimmune diseases.
  • Autoinflammatory diseases.
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