Friday, March 9, 2012

Sjögren's Syndrome

 facts

  • Sjögren's syndrome is an “Autoimmune" Disease.
  • Sjögren's syndrome involves inflammation of glands and other tissues of the body.
  • About 90% of Sjögren's syndrome patients are female.
  • Sjögren's syndrome can be complicated by infections of the eyes, breathing passages, and mouth.
  • Sjögren's syndrome is typically associated with antibodies against a variety of body tissues (autoantibodies).
  • Diagnosis of Sjögren's syndrome can be aided by a saliva-gland biopsy.
  • Treatment of patients with Sjögren's syndrome is directed toward the particular areas of the body that are involved and complications, such as infection.

What is Sjögren's syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome is an “autoimmune” (Duhhh…it’s the LYME people!!!!) disease characterized by dryness of the mouth and eyes. Autoimmune diseases feature the abnormal production of extra antibodies in the blood that are directed against various tissues of the body. The misdirected immune system in autoimmunity tends to lead to inflammation of tissues. This particular autoimmune illness features inflammation in glands of the body that are responsible for producing tears and saliva. Inflammation of the glands that produce tears (lacrimal glands) leads to decreased water production for tears and decreased saliva production and dry eyes. Inflammation of the glands that produce the saliva in the mouth (salivary glands, including the parotid glands) leads to dry mouth and dry lips.
Sjogren's syndrome with gland inflammation (resulting in dry eyes and mouth, etc.) that is not associated with another connective tissue disease is referred to as primary Sjögren's syndrome. Sjögren's syndrome that is also associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis,systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, is referred to as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. Dryness of eyes and mouth, in patients with or without Sjögren's syndrome, is sometimes referred to as sicca syndrome.


What causes Sjögren's syndrome?

While the exact cause of Sjögren's syndrome is not known (by doctors…but it’s clearly known by Lyme patients as another Lyme attack), there is growing scientific support for genetic (inherited) factors. The genetic background of Sjögren's syndrome patients is an active area of research. The illness is sometimes found in other family members. It is also found more commonly in families that have members with other autoimmune illnesses, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune thyroid disease, type Idiabetes, etc. 
About 90% of patients with Sjögren's syndrome are female. (WHOO-HOOOO!!!!!)

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