Sjogren’s Syndrome: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Sjogren’s Syndrome is an annoying and potentially dangerous condition characterized by general dryness, but it can be remedied, so it is important to know about the symptoms and possible treatment options, such as extra hydration, humidifiers, chewing gum, vitamin D, vitamin E, and others.
Autoimmune diseases come in a wide array of forms, and can have very unusual symptoms and manifestations. Sjogren’s Syndrome is no different, and primarily appears as a general dryness of the eyes and mouth. The moisture-producing glands of the body are very important, as that moisture can often help the body rid itself of toxins and foreign substances. Some of the other common symptoms of Sjogren’s include dry skin, numbness in the arms and legs, a dry cough, vaginal dryness, fatigue, thyroid problems and general joint pain. The cause of the condition is not specifically known, but it is widely believed to result from genetic and environmental factors. As with all autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system essentially begins attacking healthy cells, and the subsequent inflammation in those moisture-producing glands can damage the glands permanently, making it difficult for them to secrete fluids to those parts of the body. A secondary version of this syndrome can also arise as a side effect of a bacterial or a viral infection, or as a secondary symptom of another autoimmune disease.
While dryness of the eyes and mouth doesn’t seem like the end of the world, as with many autoimmune diseases, the condition can worsen, resulting in more extreme symptoms and a serious impact on quality of life. Sojgren’s Syndrome is not the easiest condition to diagnose, given that its main symptoms are dry eyes and mouth, which are quite common in people as they age. However, if the symptoms become more serious, people can usually get a blood test to reveal higher levels of antibodies that are commonly associated with the syndrome. A lip or salivary gland biopsy can also show high levels of lymphocytes, which will form near damaged salivary glands caused by this syndrome. Once the diagnosis is made, however, the treatment must begin. Unfortunately, as with many autoimmune diseases, there is no known cure or treatment for this condition; remedies can only lessen the severity of the symptoms and support the body’s overall health. Now, let’s take a look at some of these alternative treatments for Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Treatment Options for Sjogren’s Syndrome
Extra Hydration: Given that this syndrome makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for your body to generate moisture through the appropriate glands, adding extra water to your diet is an important step in the mitigation of this disease. Aside from drinking water, eating food that has a high water content, such as zucchini, radish, celery, peppers and spinach.
Eye Drops: When your eyes begin to dry out and your vision starts to blur, which is a common symptoms of Sjogren’s in more advanced cases, the easiest way to see clearly is to drop some artificial hydration in. The range of lubricating eye drops on the market is larger than ever before, and since this is one of the most irritating and obvious symptoms of the syndrome, having a bottle of eye drops in your pocket at all times is a must.
Humidifiers: There are few things more annoying than waking up in the middle of the night with a mouth so dry you can barely swallow. Unfortunately, this is the case for many people who suffer from Sjogren’s Syndrome, so to avoid this irritating outcome, put a humidifier in your bedroom. This will allow you to sleep better through the night, and wake up with a bit more moisture in the air – and in your body!
Vitamin D Supplementation: Although the direct connection is somewhat difficult to pinpoint, it has been found that Sjogren’s Syndrom patients often have a deficiency in Vitamin D, which may exacerbate the symptoms of the condition. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation is often recommended, or you can simply add vitamin D-rich foods to your diet, such as spinach, soybeans and fish.
Green Tea: As with so many health conditions, an antioxidant-rich cup of green tea can do wonders for the treatment of Sjogren’s Syndrome. The polyphenols in green tea have been directly connected with minimizing the effects of autoimmune diseases by preventing the inflammation of the salivary and moisture glands in the body. By minimizing the cytotoxicity and the attacks of the immune system, green tea polyphenols can slow or even neutralize the symptoms of this syndrome.
Vitamin E: For the moisturizing of the skin and other parts of the body, vitamin E oil has long been the recommended treatment, so it makes sense that vitamin E supplementation has also been connected with lessened symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome. You can take regular dietary supplements of the vitamin or add more vitamin E-rich foods to your diet, including almonds, kale and mustard greens.
Chewing Gum: One of the most basic purposes of chewing gum is to increase salivation of the mouth. By tricking the body into thinking that it is about to eat, swallow and digest something, it increases the amount of saliva being produced and released in the body. Chewing gum is one of the easiest and most constant methods of symptom mitigation for Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Avoid Spicy Food: When you consume spicy, salty or highly acidic food, it can do damage to salivary glands and have a negative effect on your mouth in general. Given that the glands are already under attack if you suffer from Sjogren’s Syndrome, it is unwise to make things any worse. Furthermore, spicy and salty foods can cause your body to dehydrate, either through water retention or sweating, which also makes the problem of this autoimmune disease even worse.
Change Meal Size/Frequency: By eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, you can encourage your body to produce more saliva and keep your moisture-producing glands in better health. Just as with chewing gum, more meals in smaller portions will increase saliva and gastric juice production, which can help to avoid many of the symptoms of this condition.
Final Word of Warning: Given that this autoimmune disease does increase the risk of lymphoma and can have effects on other organ systems, such as the heart and lungs, it is important to speak with a trained physician about treatment options and the severity of your case. These home remedies should be seen as complementary to more formal approaches, according to your doctor.