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Sjögren's Syndrome Fast Facts


What is Sjögren's (Show-gren) Syndrome

  • Autoimmune disease (or disease in which your immune system turns against your body’s own cells)
    • Normally your immune system or disease-fighting cells work to protect you from disease
      • Job is to destroy harmful viruses and bacteria invading your body
    • In this autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks part of your own body by mistake
      • Damages glands that make tears and saliva (spit)
        • Damage keeps glands from working right and causes dry eyes and dry mouth
      • Leads to dryness in other places that need moisture, such as nose, throat, and skin
      • Can affect lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, and nerves
  • Considered one of the autoimmune connective tissue diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
    • These diseases affect framework of body (joints, muscles, and skin)
  • Sometimes called a rheumatic disease
    • Causes inflammation in joints, muscles, and other organs
  • Symptoms vary in type and intensity
  • Most people able to live normal lives
  • Regular medical care important
  • Serious complications are rare
  • Doctors today can provide advice about how to live with Sjögren's Syndrome

What Causes Sjögren's Syndrome

  • Doctors don’t know the exact cause of Sjögren's Syndrome
    • May be caused by a combination of two things
      • Genes
      • Exposure to something like a virus or bacteria
    • Symptoms may develop slowly, and are similar to other diseases
    • May take years to diagnose Sjögren's Syndrome
    • May develop as a complication of another autoimmune disorder

Who Gets Sjögren's

  • Mostly women in their late 40’s
  • Can occur at any age and in any race
  • Rarely affects children
  • Thought to affect less than 200,000 people in U.S. population