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Guide to Sjogren's Syndrome


Updated June 27, 2014

3 of 10

Part 3 of 10 - What Are the Symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome?

Dry Eyes

Your eyes may be red and burn and itch. People say it feels like they have sand in their eyes. Also, your vision may be blurry, and bright light, especially fluorescent lighting, might bother you.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth feels like a mouth full of cotton. It is difficult to:

  • swallow
  • speak
  • taste

Your sense of smell can change, and you may develop a dry cough. Because you lack the protective effects of saliva, dry mouth increases your chances of developing cavities and mouth infections.

Other Symptoms

Both primary and secondary Sjogren's syndrome can affect other parts of the body, including the:

  • skin
  • joints
  • lungs
  • kidneys
  • blood vessels
  • nervous system

Sjogren's can cause symptoms such as:

  • dry skin
  • skin rashes
  • thyroid problems
  • joint and muscle pain
  • pneumonia
  • vaginal dryness
  • numbness/tingling in extremities
  • chronic fatigue

When Sjogren's affects other parts of the body, it is called extraglandular involvement because the problems extend beyond the tear and salivary glands.

What Causes the Dryness?

In the autoimmune attack that causes Sjogren's syndrome, disease-fighting cells called lymphocytes target the glands that produce moisture, primarily the:

  • lacrimal (tear) glands
  • salivary (saliva) glands

Although no one knows exactly how damage occurs, damaged glands can no longer produce tears and saliva, and eye and mouth dryness result.

When the skin, sinuses, airways, and vaginal tissues are affected, dryness also occurs in those places.

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