Sjogren's Syndrome Diagnosis and Management

Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy - Baltimore

The doctors of Rheumatology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, provide care for a wide variety of rheumatoid diseases and conditions. Our rheumatologists diagnose Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes a lack of moisture within certain glands of the body.

About the Condition

Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes a lack of moisture within certain glands of the body, in particular the saliva producing glands of the mouth and the tear producing glands of the eyes. The condition occurs when the immune system, which typically defends the body against disease and infection, mistakenly attacks the cells and tissues of the gland.

Sjogren's syndrome often accompanies other immune-system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. The condition affects women more than men and most commonly occurs in patients over the age of 40.

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Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

The two main symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include dry eyes and dry mouth. In some cases, Sjogren’s syndrome may also cause the following:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Skin rashes or dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Thyroid gland abnormalities

Diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome can be difficult as the type and severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. Mercy’s rheumatologists may utilize a combination of tests to measure dryness in the eyes and mouth and may perform blood tests and imaging tests. Your doctor may also perform a biopsy, in which a small sliver of tissue from the affected area is removed and examined under a microscope.

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Treatment Options

Like many autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome. Your rheumatologist may suggest lifestyle changes, such as staying hydrated, practicing good oral hygiene, and using eye drops for dry eyes. In some cases, your rheumatologist may prescribe medications to increase saliva or treat specific complications.

Mercy’s experienced rheumatologists will help patients determine the best course of treatment based on their particular condition.