By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a disorder that affects the autoimmune system. You may have also heard it referred to as “sicca.” This disorder is when your immune system is not paying attention to what it should be doing, and instead starts to attack your tissues and such.
The most common targets of your immune system are the glands that help to produce moisture throughout your body. This, of course, doesn’t sound incredibly dangerous on the surface, but when you really start to look at it, it can cause a lot of issues.
First off, imagine what happens when your mouth is overly dry. You feel like there’s cotton in your mouth, and it may be hard for you to chew and do other activities. Imagine feeling that way all of the time, and you’ve got an idea of what Sjogren’s Syndrome does to your mouth.
It hurts like crazy, your teeth could end up becoming decayed, and you may also get ulcers in the roof of your mouth. Then, imagine other parts of the body that may be dealing with those symptoms as well. Dry skin can really hurt if it’s starting to chap and chafe.
Dry eyes could end up getting ulcers, and in the worst cases, it could affect your vision negatively. If your private areas are not moist, it could make sex uncomfortable and it could make it so that you feel as if you can’t perform other tasks. All in all, the lack of moisture really hurts the person and can cause long term health effects if it isn’t taken care of well.
There are other symptoms as well, including fatigue and extreme pain that makes it hard for the person suffering from the disorder to move around and do their daily activities. In the worst cases, a person can be debilitated and in bed for extended periods of time.
Sjogren’s Syndrome is actually what has prevented a number of athletes from being able to perform, including tennis superstar Venus Williams. In those cases, it can be especially frustrating because the athletes would be able to do their job otherwise, but they are prevented because of the complications that are related to Sjogren’s Syndrome.
How Can Sjogren’s Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Be Linked?
So Sjogren’s Syndrome and fibromyalgia often go hand in hand, mainly because of how it attacks the body. Unfortunately, it can be really difficult to figure out exactly what is going on because so many of the symptoms overlap between Sjogren’s Syndrome and fibromyalgia.
So what are you supposed to do when you can’t figure out exactly what disorder you are dealing with? How are you supposed to take care of the symptoms if you can’t actually get a solid diagnosis of what is going on, especially when it comes to Sjogren’s Syndrome?
The big indicator is the dryness that you are dealing with. If you are dealing with unusual dryness during times of year when you shouldn’t be (because remember, the winter months can sometimes be painfully dry), then you want to keep an eye on it.
If you’re starting to notice that you feel dehydrated or that you can’t deal with the itchy, flaky skin that you have on different parts of your body, it may end up being because you’ve got Sjogren’s Syndrome alongside of your fibromyalgia. Go and talk to your doctor in order to try and figure out what the best treatment plan is for you.
So, How Do You Take Care of it?
There are a few different treatment plans that you can utilize when you’re dealing with Sjogren’s Syndrome. If your eyes are the cause of the problem, then your doctor may suggest that you use artificial tears or that you use ointments in order to try and give your eyes a little more moisture. In some cases, you may also use pellets, which are meant to make sure that your tears stick around for awhile.
If your mouth is the issue, you’ll have to go about it a bit differently. You could try hard candy or gum, which help to make your saliva glands work a bit more. Drink a lot of fluids throughout the day.
If your lips are chapped, use balms to keep them moist. And, if you have pain in your mouth, consider talking to your doctor about using a rinse or gel in order to help reduce the amount of pain you’re coping with.
It’s all about your particular symptoms. Your doctor will do everything that he can to help to relieve the symptoms you’re suffering from, and that, in turn, will help you feel a lot less pain and to have a lot more energy in the long run.
The links between Sjorgen’s Syndrome and fibromyalgia are incredibly interesting to look at, and by having a better understanding of both of them, we will be able to determine if one or the other is becoming an issue in our lives.
If you believe Sjorgen’s Syndrome may be part of your exhaustion issue, make sure to consult with your doctor in order to get a proper diagnosis and to determine the best course of action for your treatment plan.