Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease most commonly found in women, which often mimics the symptoms of menopause. Symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome can affect all areas of the body, but the most common problems reported by patients are dry eyes and dry mouth (xerostomia). Many times, patients will describe it as having no saliva or feeling as if their eyes have no moisture.
These symptoms shouldn't be ignored. Instead of just writing off any discomfort to simply having dry mouth, ask your dentist and doctor if you should be watching out for any underlying conditions.
Life With Sjogren's Syndrome
Sjogren's syndrome symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions. The oral manifestations of this disease – including dry mouth, oral sores and dental cavities – are the ones patients tend to focus on, but many areas of the body are affected. According to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, the disease can cause muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, neuropathy and even liver and lung dysfunction.
Because of the wide variety of symptoms and their similarity to other conditions, Sjogren's syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. According to the Foundation, there is no definitive single test for the condition and a diagnosis typically takes three years or more.
Sjogren's Syndrome Treatment: Not a Dry Subject
Sjogren's syndrome is a lifelong condition that rarely goes into remission. Since each patient's experience with the disease is different, the Foundation recommends that you and your doctor form a treatment plan for your individual symptoms. Treatments for Sjogren's include over-the-counter remedies, like eye drops for dry eyes, and sometimes immunosuppressive medications for more severe organ problems.
Your dental professional can suggest ways to help reduce chronic oral symptoms. They may suggest using a mouthwash that hydrates your mouth for four hours of lasting relief.
A dry mouth is the perfect environment for plaque to accumulate. Without saliva to lubricate and naturally wash the teeth throughout the day, the oral cavity becomes a breeding ground for germs. Brushing at least twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste can help fight tooth cavities. Toothpaste containing fluoride will help prevent cavities and lock in a hydrated feeling.
Don't be discouraged if you are experiencing Sjogren's syndrome symptoms. There is support to help you discover what's going on. It may not go away, but there are ways to make symptoms like dry mouth more bearable.