What is Sjögren's syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome is a lifelong autoimmune disorder that reduces the amount of moisture produced by glands in the eyes and mouth. It is named for Henrik Sjögren, a Swedish eye doctor who first described the condition. While dry mouth and dry eyes are the primary symptoms, most people who have these problems don't have Sjögren's syndrome. Dry mouth is also called xerostomia.

There are two forms of Sjögren's syndrome:

  1. Primary Sjögren's syndrome develops on its own, not because of any other health condition.
  2. Secondary Sjögren's syndrome develops in addition to other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and psoriatic arthritis.

Who might get Sjögren's syndrome?

An estimated one to four million Americans have Sjögren's syndrome. The disease affects people of all races, ethnicities and ages. However, women are nine times more likely to develop this condition than men.

What causes Sjögren’s syndrome?

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, which means something triggers your immune system to attack healthy cells. This attack damages the tear system in your eyes and the salivary glands in your mouth.

Exactly what causes this abnormal immune system response is not clear. These factors may play a role:

  • Environmental factors.
  • Genetics.
  • Sex hormones (the condition affects more women than men).
  • Viral infections.

What are the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome?

In addition to extremely dry eyes and mouth, some people experience muscle pain and joint pain all over the body, similar to fibromyalgia. Other symptoms include:

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