Is dry mouth and dry eyes more than a minor annoyance?

Is dry mouth and dry eyes more than a minor annoyance?
Posted on 02/11/2016

Many Americans suffer from dry eyes or dry mouth at some point in their life. The first notion might be to reach for some eye drops or moisturizing mouth wash, but could these symptoms be associated with something more serious? If you also have associated dry mouth, joint pain or stiffness, you might want to speak with your doctor about an evaluation at Rheumatology Associates P.C.. These symptoms are commonly associated with an autoimmune condition known as Sjogren’s Syndrome (SHOW-GRINS). 

Like many other autoimmune diseases, it isn’t known what causes Sjogren’s Syndrome. Sjogren’s Syndrome causes inflammation in salivary and tear glands leading to symptoms of dryness. There may be associated arthritis, skin symptoms, respiratory symptoms and fatigue. 

The disease can also sometimes attack and cause damage to the nervous system, thyroid gland, liver or kidneys. The symptoms of Sjogren’s can occur in other rheumatic diseases.

Sjogren’s has been diagnosed in patients of all ages, but it is most common in people over the age of 40. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Sjogren’s. Long-term effects of Sjogren’s vary from dental problems – due to lack of saliva – to more rare conditions affecting the lungs and other internal organs.

Genetics can play a factor in Sjogren’s Syndrome, so knowing your family history can be helpful when consulting with a rheumatologist. Since the symptoms vary, the diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome can be difficult. Your rheumatologist may order blood tests to check for different antibodies or other laboratory abnormalities that may be indicative of Sjogren’s Syndrome. 

Many people can live mostly normal lives with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Over the counter medications will help with the eye and mouth symptoms. Prescription medications are used to treat the inflammatory symptoms and any internal organ involvement.  Consult the doctors at Rheumatology Associates P.C, for more information. 

Phone: 317-844-6444