Sjögren's Syndrome Treatment in Asheville, NC
Affecting up to three million people, Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease often accompanying other immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis . Known to affect the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth, the most common Sjögren's syndrome symptom is dry eyes, often accompanied by dry mouth, due to a decrease in the production of tears and saliva. If diagnosed with this condition, you may feel an itchy, burning feeling in the eyes, as if they feel gritty like there's sand in them. Your mouth may feel like it's full of cotton, making it hard to speak or swallow. Other Sjögren's syndrome symptoms may include:
- Joint pain, swelling and stiffness
- Swollen salivary glands, particularly the set behind your jaw and in front of your ears
- Skin rashes or dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Persistent dry cough
- Prolonged fatigue
The most typically affected age group of this condition is 40 and up and usually it is more common among women than men; however, Sjögren's syndrome can be diagnosed in any age group or sex. As an autoimmune disorder, Sjögren's syndrome causes your body to accidentally attack its own cells and tissues, which causes the damage to your moisture-secreting glands; however, it can also cause damage to other important parts of your body including your joints, thyroid, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin and nerves, making it important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have Sjögren's syndrome.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Asheville that can diagnose and treat Sjögren's syndrome, call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online..
Sjögren's Syndrome Diagnosis
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and observe your symptoms to determine whether you are suffering from Sjögren's syndrome. Because dry eyes and dry mouth alone will be inconclusive of the disease, a Sjögren's syndrome diagnosis will be based on further investigation, likely including special tests to inspect and assess any decrease in tear and saliva production. An eye examination can help detect any eye changes seen in Sjögren's, while a blood test can determine any presence of antibodies which could be implicative of the disease. Anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA), which are common with autoimmune diseases and which mistakenly target "normal" proteins within the nucleus of the cell, may be one factor your healthcare provider identifies as a risk. Rheumatoid factor may also suggest the disease is present. Further biopsies of the saliva glands around the face and under the surface of the inner lip can also be used to make a definitive diagnosis.
Sjögren's Syndrome Treatment
Managing your dry eyes and dry mouth can start with over-the-counter eye drops and regular hydration. Sjögren's syndrome treatment may also include specific prescribed medications aimed at improving your symptoms. Some of these medications could include:
- Medications such as pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac) which can increase your production of saliva.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other arthritis medications which can help treat other associated Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms.
- Prescription eye drops to help manage your dry eyes if over-the-counter eye drops prove ineffective.
- Medications such as methotrexate to suppress the immune system.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend surgery to relieve dry eyes. A minor surgical procedure called a punctual occlusion seals the tear ducts that drain tears from your eyes. This procedure consists of inserting collagen or silicone plugs into the ducts for temporary closure. While collagen plugs eventually dissolve, silicone plugs will stay in place until they fall out or are removed. Your healthcare provider could also choose to use a laser to permanently seal your tear ducts.
Sjögren's syndrome can cause discomfort that warrants intervention. Schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Asheville that can treat your symptoms! Call (423) 482-8711 or contact AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
Address1604 Lamons Lane
Johnson City, TN 37604
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm