Sjögren's Syndrome is a Relatively Rare but Serious Condition
People with Sjögren's Syndrome look normal on the outside, but inside their bodies tell a different story. Sjögren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to quit producing fluids, including tears, saliva, and sweat. The joints, lungs, digestive system, eyes, mouth, and skin can all be affected, and symptoms may cause severe fatigue, pain and discomfort. It’s important that people with Sjögren's drink water throughout the day, and be sure not to overheat during exercise.
Because Sjögren's Syndrome is uncommon and tends to occur alongside other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, it often goes unrecognized for many years. Also, 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with Sjögren's are women, and physicians may be more likely to attribute these patients’ complaints to an inability to cope with stress—-one woman with Sjögren's was even accused of hiding an eating disorder. The average patient is not diagnosed until her 50s or 60s.
Like other autoimmune diseases, Sjögren's may be triggered by illness or environmental factors, and does not yet have a cure.
Medical treatment is focused on helping patients better manage their symptoms so that they can be as comfortable as possible.
The Sjögren's Society, which operates in the United States and Canada, is trying to increase awareness of this syndrome among physicians and the general public. The Society can also help those with Sjögren's find helpful products, such as special toothpaste, eye drops and mouth gel.
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