Sjogren's syndrome is a disorder of the immune system or a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks the tear and salivary glands. It is identified by two most common symptoms, dry eyes, and a dry mouth. Named after Henrik Sjogren, this Swedish ophthalmologist was the first one to classify the ailment and its corresponding symptoms. In this condition, eyes tend to burn or itch and get extremely dry. This happens when the immune system attacks healthy mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands resulting in decreased tears and saliva. In some cases, joints may be painful and swollen due to mild or severe inflammation. Some people with this condition have acute headaches and migraines and, in some patients, muscles also become achy and tender. In extreme cases, Sjogren's syndrome may also accompany other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Although the problem can develop at any age, people above 40 years of age and women get more affected by this problem as compared to men. Treatment for Sjogren's syndrome primarily focuses on relieving symptoms.

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Sjogren's syndrome

Causes Of Sjogren's syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that is when the immune system mistakenly attacks your body's cells and tissues. The exact reason for this ailment is unknown, but some genes in the human body are prone to this disorder and when they find a triggering mechanism such as a viral or bacterial infection, the problem can occur. While Sjogren's syndrome first targets the glands that make tears and saliva, it can also damage other parts of your body, such as joints, nerves, thyroid, kidneys, liver, lungs, and skin.

Also Read: Autoimmune Disease: Learn What It Is About And Why It’s Hard To Detect

Dry eyes and dry mouth are primary indicators of Sjogren's syndrome, but some other symptoms of the disease are:

  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Difficult in swallowing or speaking
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness in women, making sexual activity painful and discomforting
  • Achy and swollen muscles

Risk Factors

Sjogren's syndrome typically occurs in people with one or more known risk factors, including:

  • Age: Sjogren's syndrome is usually diagnosed in people older than 40
  • Sex: Women are ten times likely to have Sjogren's syndrome as compared to men
  • Rheumatic disease: It is common for people who have any form rheumatic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus also get affected with Sjogren's syndrome
  • Dental cavities: The major role of saliva is to help protect the teeth from the bacteria and prevent cavities. Thus, one is more prone to develop severe dental cavities and get this disorder if the mouth does not produce enough saliva
  • Vaginal Yeast infections: People who develop a frequent vaginal yeast infection, a common fungal infection of the genitals that causes inflammation, irritation, itching, and vaginal discharge are at risk of developing Sjogren's syndrome
  • Vision disorders: Dry eyes can lead to light sensitivity, blurred vision, and corneal damage which can further aggravate this autoimmune disease.


Sjogren's Syndrome does not have a set treatment plan per se; thus, physicians focus more on keeping the symptoms under control than curing the problem since it has severe complications and may affect the lungs, kidneys, or liver in the long run. Inflammation can also cause pneumonia, bronchitis, or other problems in the lungs that can further lead to problems with kidney function, hepatitis, or liver cirrhosis. A small percentage of people with Sjogren's syndrome may also develop cancer of the lymph nodes or lymphoma. Severe numbness, tingling, and burning in your hands and feet also occurs in this many cases which need to be kept in check. Various measures to improve quality of life, and pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments to manage the risk of many related ailments such as lymphoma are taken. Treatment for Sjogren's syndrome depends on the parts of the body affected and is decided according to the activity of the underlying disease. More often, drugs that suppress the immune system and treatment to cure dry eyes and relieve inflammation are prescribed.