It’s that time of year again where we are focusing on specific autoimmune disorders for the month. Today I’m focusing on Sjogren’s Syndrome. I have had this disorder for over twenty years. It was the first of the four autoimmune disorders that developed.
Fortunately, I had a wonderful doctor who was able to tell me what was going on. My tears and saliva had dried up. I was chasing every meal I ate with antacids, and the skin on my face cracked. I’m use to the dry eyes and mouth, now I am living with terrible tooth decay.
So what is Sjogren’s? This is a disease that causes dryness in your mouth and eyes. It can also lead to dryness in other places that need moisture, such as your nose, throat and skin. Most people who get Sjogren’s syndrome are older than 40, nine of 10 are women.
Sjogren’s syndrome is sometimes linked to rheumatic problems such as rheumatoid arthritis. In Sjogren’s syndrome, your immune system attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. It may also affect your joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, and nerves. The main symptoms are dry eyes, and dry mouth. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.
What is autoimmune? Auto-immune refers to a process whereby the cells that are usually directed to fighting infections are actually attacking our own cells, creating inflammation and damage to tissues, in particular the mucous membranes.
A Place To Begin
Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome
The two main symptoms of Sjogrens syndrome are:
• Dry eye and
• Dry mouth
There are many symptoms, but not everyone experiences all of them and not everyone experiences the same symptoms at the same levels of intensity. People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome usually have a assorted combination of many other symptoms, which may include:
- Extreme fatigue – I get fatigued, but I don’t know that it is caused from the Sjogren’s.
- Muscle pain
- Arthritis (joint pain, swelling, sometimes deformity)
- Dry itchy skin. I do have this. I use a lot of very thick creams. I find that they do help relieve a lot of the itching.
- Dry nose with crusting and infection. I have a very dry nose. Especially after I have been working on the computer. Because I don’t blink very often, my eyes dry out more and then my nose will dry out.
- Dry vagina, recurrent thrush. I don’t have this problem.
- Heartburn and/or indigestion. I don’t suffer from this very often. Certain foods cause a lot of heartburn for me. For instance, a banana will cause my chest to burn with a painful intensity.
- Difficulty swallowing, alteration of taste. I have a big problem with swallowing food. I often get it stuck in my esophagus. I can continue to breathe with no problem, but it can take a while for the food to become dislodged. It usually never goes down. It will work its way back up.
- Painful mouth with ulcers, recurring oral candida. I have experienced this quite often. Then I figured out, for me, sugar was causing it. If I don’t eat sugar I don’t get the ulcers. You know the Kings Hawaiian dinner rolls? All I had to do was eat one of them and I would immediately get a mouth sore. I figured that one out right away.
- Rampant tooth decay. I have this. Right now I have five cavities in two of my front teeth. I’m looking at two more root canals in my future.
- Hoarseness, cough. At the end of the day I tend to become hoarse. Sometimes my throat feels like I have sand stuck on it. Drinking a lot of water seems to make that better.
So that is Sjogren’s Syndrome in a nutshell. I hope you have found this interesting and that you learned something that you didn’t know before.