Diagnosing Sjogren's Syndrome
When diagnosing Sjogren's syndrome, the doctor will ask detailed questions and will also perform a complete physical exam to check for signs of the condition. Tests may also be conducted as part of the diagnostic process. Tests that can be used to make a Sjogren's syndrome diagnosis include the Schirmer test, staining, a slit lamp exam, a mouth exam, and a biopsy.
To help in diagnosing Sjogren's syndrome, the doctor will first gather a detailed medical history, which includes asking questions about your:
- General health
- Family medical history
- Alcohol consumption
- Tobacco use
- Use of drugs or medications.
The doctor will also do a complete physical exam to check for symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome.
You may have some tests, too. First, the doctor will want to check your eyes and mouth to see whether Sjogren's is causing your symptoms and to see how severe the problem is. Then the doctor may do other tests to see if Sjogren's syndrome is elsewhere in the body as well.
Common eye and mouth tests used to diagnose Sjogren's syndrome include:
- Schirmer test
- Slit lamp exam
- Mouth exam
This test measures tears to see how the lacrimal gland is working. It can be done in two ways. In Schirmer I, the doctor puts thin paper strips under the lower eyelids and measures the amount of wetness on the paper after five minutes. People with Sjogren's syndrome usually produce less than 8 millimeters of tears. The Schirmer II test is similar, but the doctor uses a cotton swab to stimulate a tear reflex inside the nose.