Symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome can involve the glands, as above, but there are also possible effects of the illness involving other organs of the body (extraglandular manifestations).
When the tear gland (lacrimal gland) is inflamed from Sjogren's, the resulting eye dryness can progressively lead to eye irritation, decreased tear production, a "gritty" sensation, infection, and serious abrasion of the dome of the eye (cornea). Dry eyes can lead to infections of the eyes. The condition of having dry eyes is medically referred to as xerophthalmia.
Inflammation of the salivary glands can lead to mouth dryness, swallowing difficulties, dental decay, cavities, gum disease, mouth sores and swelling, and stones and/or infection of the parotid gland inside of the cheeks. Dry lips often accompany the mouth dryness. Dry mouth is medically referred to as xerostomia.
Other glands that can become inflamed, though less commonly, in Sjogren's syndrome include those of the lining of the breathing passages (leading to lung infections) and the vagina (sometimes causing pain during intercourse or recurrent vaginal infections).
Extraglandular (outside of the glands) problems in Sjogren's syndrome include joint pain or inflammation (arthritis), Raynaud's phenomenon, lung inflammation, lymph node enlargement, and kidney, nerve, and muscle disease. A rare serious complication of Sjogren's syndrome is inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), which can damage the tissues of the body that are supplied by these vessels.
A common disease that is occasionally associated with Sjogren's syndrome is autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), which can lead to abnormal thyroid hormone levels detected by thyroid blood tests. Heartburn and difficulty swallowing can result from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), another common condition associated with Sjogren's syndrome. A rare disease that is uncommonly associated with Sjogren's syndrome is primary biliary cirrhosis, an autoimmune disease of the liver that leads to scarring of the liver tissue. A small percentage of patients with Sjogren's syndrome develop cancer of the lymph glands (lymphoma). This usually develops only after many years with the illness. Unusual lymph node swelling should be reported to the physician.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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