Basic Information on Sjogren's Syndrome
Experts believe that 1 to 4 million people have the disease. Most -- 90 percent -- are women. It can occur at any age, but Sjogren's syndrome usually is diagnosed after age 40, and can affect people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Although it's rare, it can occur in children.
There are two main types of Sjogren's syndrome:
Primary Sjogren's syndrome occurs by itself; the secondary form occurs with another disease. Both are systemic disorders, meaning they can affect the whole body, although the symptoms in the primary form are more restricted.
No one knows the exact cause of Sjogren's syndrome and why the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the glands that provide moisture.
Sjogren's syndrome research scientists believe that genetics and/or the environment may play a role in the development of the condition.
Common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome include:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth.
The disorder can affect other parts of the body, including the:
- Blood vessels
- Nervous system.
When these areas are affected, symptoms may include:
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Skin rashes
- Thyroid problems
- Joint and muscle pain
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities