What Is Sjogren's Disease?

What Is Sjogren's Disease?

According to Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, Sjogren's is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. In patients with Sjogren's syndrome, white blood cells attack moisture-producing glands, resulting in the hallmark symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth in addition to dysfunction of the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, liver, lungs, blood vessels, pancreas and central nervous system. Joint pain and extreme fatigue are common.

Sjogren's disease was first identified by Dr. Henrik Sjögren in 1933, according to Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. It affects all ethnic and racial groups, and nine out of 10 patients with the disease are women. Considered one of the more prevalent autoimmune disorders, approximately 4 million Americans have Sjogren's disease.

While some people with Sjogren's experience mild symptoms, others suffer debilitating, life-altering symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and improve quality of life, states Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation.

According to Mayo Clinic, Sjogren's frequently accompanies other autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Although people can develop Sjorgren's at any age, the disease is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 40.

Many Sjogren's patients successfully utilize over-the-counter eye drops to manage the dry eye associated with the disease, but prescription medications to increase saliva production may also be helpful, explains Mayo Clinic. Hydroxychloroquin, a drug used to treat malaria, is often prescribed to treat system-wide symptoms of Sjogren's.