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Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, causes and complications

This is a disorder of the immune system which is identified by its 2 most common symptoms – a dry mouth and dry eyes. The Sjogren’s syndrome often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. When some person suffers from Sjogren’s syndrome, then his mucous membranes and moisture – secreting glands of the mouth and eyes are usually affected first and this is resulting in decreased tears and saliva. This disorder can happen at any age but people who are older than 40 are having highest chances of developing it. It is much more common in women [1]. The treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome is focused on relieving symptoms.

Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, causes and complications

Symptoms: There are two main symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome [2,3] and they are:

  • Dry mouth: You may feel that your mouth is full of cotton which is making difficult for you to speak or swallow. Here are some signs that can indicate that you have dry mouth:
  • Dry, sore and cracked skin at the corners of your lips
  • A change in how food tastes
  • A smooth, red tongue
  • A hoarse voice
  • Your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth
  • Needing to drink water while eating to help you swallow food
  • Feeling like foods get stuck in your mouth or throat – especially dry foods like crackers
  • Dry eyes: Your eyes can feel gritty (as if there is sand in them) or they might itch or burn. Here are some signs that can indicate that you have dry eyes:
  • Blurred vision
  • Sticky eyelids when you wake up
  • Discomfort when looking at lights
  • Sore, red and swollen eyelids
  • A feeling of grit or sand in your eyes
  • Burning, stinging or itchy eyes

Also there are some people who have Sjogren’s syndrome and they have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Skin rashes or dry skin
  • Swollen salivary glands – particularly the set located behind your jaw and in front of your eyes
  • Joint pain, swelling and stiffness

Sjogren's syndrome symptoms, causes and complications

Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, causes and complications

Causes: The Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own cells and tissues. Doctors are not sure why some people develop Sjogren’s syndrome. There are some genes which are increasing the risk of Sjogren’s syndrome but also it appears that a triggering mechanism, such as an infection with a strain of bacteria or a particular virus, is also necessary. When someone has Sjogren’s syndrome, then your immune system first targets the glands which make saliva and tears. But this condition can also damage other parts of your body, such as

  • Nerves
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Thyroid
  • Joints

Risk factors: This disorder is typically happening in people with one or more known risk factors, such as

  • Rheumatic disease: It is known that people who have Sjogren’s syndrome also can have a rheumatic disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis [4].
  • Sex: It is known fact that women have more chances of developing Sjogren’s syndrome compared to men [1].
  • Age: This disorder is usually diagnosed in those people who are older than 40.

Complications: The most common complications of this condition are involving the complications of eyes and mouth, such as

  • Vision problems: When you have dry eyes, then they can lead to light sensitivity, corneal damage and blurred vision.
  • Yeast infections: Those people who suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome are having more chances of developing oral thrush which is a yeast infection in the mouth.
  • Dental cavities: Our saliva helps to protect the teeth from bacteria which are causing cavities so this means that you are having more chances to develop cavities if your mouth is dry.

Also there can be less common complications and they can affect:

  • Nerves: You can develop burning, tingling and numbness in your hands and feet. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy.
  • Lymph nodes: It is small number of people who suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome and who develop cancer of the lymph nodes (also known as lymphoma). [5]
  • Lungs, kidney or liver: The inflammation can cause bronchitis, pneumonia or other problems in the lungs. Also it can lead to problems with kidney functions. It can cause cirrhosis or hepatitis in your liver.


[1] Medical Daily. Why are women more likely to have autoimmune diseases than men? New study may have the answer. 2016.

[2] Holdgate N, St. Clair EW. Recent advances in primary Sjogren’s syndrome. F1000 Research. 2016;5:F1000 Faculty Rev-1412.

[3] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Sjögren’s Syndrome. 2016. Retrieved from

[4] Giovelli RA, Santos MCS, Serrano EV, Valim V. Clinical characteristics and biopsy accuracy in suspected cases of Sjögren’s syndrome referred to labial salivary gland biopsy. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2015;16:30.

[5] Jadhav S, Jadhav A, Thopte S, et al. Sjögren’s syndrome: A case study. Journal of International Oral Health. 2015;7(3):72-4.

Pardhan Singh
Pardhan Singh
A seasoned natural therapist with degree in Ayurvedic Medicine (BAMS) successful in treating various diseases through Ayurvedic treatments. You can contact Pradhan at [email protected]


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