Sjogren's Syndrome

What Is It?

Sjögren's (pronounced "show grins") syndrome is a chronic (or lifelong) condition that causes dry mouth and dry eyes. The syndrome also can affect any of the body's glands, including those that secrete sweat, saliva and oil.

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own cells and organs. In this case, the immune system attacks the organs that normally produce lubricating fluid, including the salivary glands in the mouth and the lacrimal glands in the eye. This leads to scarring and, eventually, a marked reduction in tear and saliva production, which causes dryness of the eyes and mouth.

Dry mouth and dry eyes can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease, poorly fitting dentures, salivary gland stones, infection of the salivary glands, oral fungal infections (thrush), mouth sores, weight loss, malnutrition, bacterial conjunctivitis (a bacterial infection of the conjunctiva), corneal damage and vision loss.

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