Sjogren's Syndrome and Lung Disease
Dry mouth is one of the most common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome, and lung disease can occur as a result. Possible lung problems include pneumonia, various forms of bronchitis, obstructive long disease, and interstitial lung disease. Depending on your condition, the doctor may recommend using a humidifier or taking medication. With the right treatment approach, living with Sjogren's syndrome and lung disease can be made easier.
Sjogren's Syndrome and Lung Disease: An Overview
Dry mouth -- a common symptom of Sjogren's syndrome -- can cause lung problems. For example, aspiration pneumonia can happen when a person breathes in food instead of swallowing it (dry mouth can keep you from swallowing food properly), and the food gets stuck in the lungs.
Pneumonia can also develop when bacteria in the mouth migrate to the lungs and cause infection, or when bacteria get into the lungs and coughing doesn't remove them. (Some people with Sjogren's don't produce enough mucus in the lungs to remove bacteria, and others are too weak to be able to cough.) Pneumonia is treated with various antibiotics, depending on the person and the type of infection. It is important to get treatment for pneumonia to prevent lung abscess (a hole in the lung caused by severe infection).
People with Sjogren's also tend to have lung problems caused by inflammation, such as bronchitis (affecting the bronchial tubes), tracheobronchitis (affecting the windpipe and bronchial tubes), and laryngotracheobronchitis (affecting the voice box, windpipe, and bronchial tubes).
Less frequently, people with Sjogren's develop obstructive lung disease or interstitial lung disease (pulmonary fibrosis).
Treatment for Sjogren's Syndrome and Lung Disease
Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend using a humidifier, taking medicines to open the bronchial tubes, or taking corticosteroids to relieve inflammation. Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of the lungs and is treated with corticosteroids and nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).