Sjogren's Syndrome Info




    The disease was described in 1933 by Henrik Sjögren, after whom it is named; however, a number of earlier descriptions of people with the symptoms exist. Between 0.2% and 1.2% of the population are affected, with half having the primary form and half the secondary form. Females are affected about ten times as often as males and it commonly begins in middle age; however, anyone can be affected. Among those without other autoimmune disorders, life expectancy is unchanged.

    Sjögren syndrome (SjS, SS) is a long-term autoimmune disease that affects the body's moisture-producing glands. Primary symptoms are a dry mouth and dry eyes. Other symptoms can include dry skin, vaginal dryness, a chronic cough, numbness in the arms and legs, feeling tired, muscle and joint pains, and thyroid problems. Those affected are at an increased risk (5%) of lymphoma.

    While the exact cause is unclear, it is believed to involve a combination of genetics and an environmental trigger such as exposure to a virus or bacteria. It can occur independently of other health problems (primary Sjögren syndrome) or as a result of another connective tissue disorder (secondary Sjögren syndrome).

    The inflammation that results progressively damages the glands. Diagnosis is by biopsy of moisture-producing glands and blood tests looking for specific antibodies. On biopsy there are typically lymphocytes within the glands.