Sjogren’s syndrome affects an estimated 1 million to 4 million people in the United States and is often defined by its two most common symptoms - dry eyes and a dry mouth.
Yet Sjogren's is more than a symptom. It's an autoimmune disease that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis. These rheumatic diseases are marked by inflammation of your connective tissues, and it's common for people with Sjogren’s syndrome to also have a connective tissue disorder. Sjogren's that results from a rheumatic condition is classified as secondary Sjogren's syndrome. Primary Sjogren’s syndrome occurs by itself.
Sjogren’s syndrome your immune system attacks healthy tissue. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first, resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva. This can lead to problems from difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) to dental cavities to light-sensitive eyes to corneal ulcers. Damage may also occur to tissues of your lungs, kidneys, Spleen, heart and liver.
Although you can develop Sjogren’s syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at diagnosis. The condition is nine times more likely to occur in women than in men.