Symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome
The two most common Sjogren's syndrome symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth. However, the disease can affect other parts of the body, too; therefore, indications can also include dry skin, pneumonia, vaginal dryness, skin rashes, and other problems. Because there is no cure, treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms of this condition.
Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which special cells called lymphocytes target the glands that produce moisture -- namely, the lacrimal (tear) and salivary (saliva) glands. Although no one knows exactly how damage occurs, damaged glands can no longer produce tears and saliva. This results in the two most common Sjogren's syndrome symptoms:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth.
With this symptom, your eyes may be red and burn and itch. People say it feels like they have sand in their eyes. Also, your vision may be blurry, and bright light (especially fluorescent lighting) might bother you.
Dry mouth feels like a mouth full of cotton. It's difficult to swallow, speak, and taste. Your sense of smell can change, and you may develop a dry cough. Also, because you lack the protective effects of saliva, dry mouth can increase your chances of developing cavities and mouth infections.
Both primary and secondary Sjogren's syndrome (see Types of Sjogren's Syndrome) can affect other parts of the body as well, including the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and nervous system. They can also cause other symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome, such as:
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Skin rashes
- Thyroid problems
- Joint and muscle pain
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities.
When Sjogren's syndrome affects other parts of the body, the condition is called extraglandular involvement because the problems extend beyond the tear and saliva glands.
Finally, Sjogren's syndrome can cause extreme fatigue that can seriously interfere with daily life.