Sjogren’s syndrome is a type of autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues.1 In patients with Sjogren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks the glands responsible for producing saliva and tears.2 In some cases, this immune response can also lead to damage of other tissues such as the thyroid, liver, lungs, joints, kidneys, nerves, and skin.3
What Causes Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is caused by an abnormal immune response that attacks mucus-secreting glands. It’s not clear what causes the body to begin attacking its own tissues, but it’s thought to be linked to certain genetic components.3 Sjogren’s syndrome might also be triggered by infection, such as from bacteria or a virus. Sjogren’s syndrome is most common in women and people over the age of 40. It seems to be connected to other diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.1
Sjogren’s Syndrome Symptoms
Sjogren’s syndrome causes dryness in the mouth and eyes as well as other moisture-rich areas like the throat and nose.1 Dry eyes and dry mouth are the most common Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, but other symptoms may include:
Sjogren’s syndrome complications may occur. In most cases, these complications affect your eyes and mouth, where symptoms begin. Complications may include dental cavities or oral thrush, which is a type of yeast infection in the mouth. These dental complications occur due to the lack of saliva Sjogren’s syndrome patients produce. There is also a risk of vision problems such as blurred vision, light sensitivity, or corneal damage from long-term dry eyes.3
In rare cases, Sjogren’s syndrome patients may also experience lung, kidney, or liver problems.3 Sjogren’s syndrome appears to increase the risk of lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the body’s lymph nodes. It may even lead to a nerve problem known as peripheral neuropathy, which causes tingling, numbness, and burning in the hands and feet.3
Sjogren’s syndrome is diagnosed through a variety of tests, including physical exams, blood tests, and biopsies. Treatment involves a variety of techniques used to manage the symptoms, such as using eye drops to relieve dry eyes. Medications may be prescribed in severe cases.1 Various herbal and home remedies might also be used to help treat symptoms of dryness.
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Flaxseed oil has been studied for its effectiveness in treating dry eye symptoms. Take 1-2 g of flaxseed daily to help with Sjogren’s syndrome.