Sjogren’s syndrome (SS) is a disease in which the immune system attacks salivary and tear (lachrymal) glands leading to dryness of the eyes and the mouth. Like other auto-immune diseases it can also have more general (systemic) effects: that is, tiredness, fatigue and aching joints and muscles. Fortunately, vital organs such as the kidney, brain or heart are affected rarely. The SS sufferer can therefore take comfort from the fact that she or, more rarely he, is unlikely to become seriously disabled and even less likely to die from the disease. There are two major problems which face the SS sufferer. Firstly, the disease is often not diagnosed. The characteristic symptoms of dry eyes and mouth may not be mentioned by the patient or sought by the doctor, particularly when systemic manifestations such as fatigue or joint pains predominate. Secondly, many doctors tend to have a rather negative attitude towards the treatment of SS. The medical textbooks state that artificial tears and saliva substitutes are the mainstay of treatment. Although this is true, there are many additional small measures which can improve the quality of life further. In addition, there are now serious attempts to develop therapies to treat the underlying disease.

Dr Patrick Venables

Editor and Honorary Medical Secretary to the BSSA

Information Courtesy of
BSSA The BSSA is a self-help organisation for people with SS.
It aims to spread information about the disease and how to alleviate it’s symptoms.
Unit 1 Manor Workshops
Nausea Wall Lane

Tel: 01275 854215