Severe dry eyes and a dry mouth may be more than a nuisance, especially if it leads to the death of salivary and tear secretion glands. Now, there are new tests that can detect the autoimmune disease that may be responsible, according to eye expert TheraLife.
Affecting more than 4 million U.S. residents, Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes dry eyes and dry mouth to the point that there is pain. This disease seems to accompany particular diseases:
- kidney disease
- lung disease
- cancer of the lymphocytes
- rheumatoid arthritis
Ninety percent of patients diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome are women over 40. Patients who have a rheumatic disease are also at risk. Currently, treatment options relieve symptoms, but there is not a cure at present.
Symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome
There are mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands that provide moisture to the eyes and mouth. Sjogren’s syndrome affects these glands and membranes resulting in decreased saliva and tears. There are two main symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome:
- Burning, itchy, gritty feeling eyes
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking as if there is cotton in the mouth
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Swollen salivary glands located in front of the ears
- Dry skin or rashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Persistent dry cough
- Prolonged fatigue
Causes of Sjogren’s Syndrome
Since Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, the body’s immune system may attack the body’s own cells and tissues. There is no scientific reason why people develop Sjogren’s syndrome, but scientists hypothesize that certain genes place patients at higher risk of the disorder. They also believe that a triggering mechanism, such as an infection with a particular strain of bacteria or virus, may cause Sjogren’s syndrome.
If left untreated, Sjogren’s syndrome can cause the body to damage the glands responsible for tear and saliva production, but can also affect:
Complications of Sjogren’s Syndrome
Complications of the eyes and mouth are the most common complications of Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Cavities – Saliva helps to protect teeth from bacteria that causes cavities. When the mouth is constantly dry, a person is more prone to developing cavities.
- Yeast Infections – Yeast infections of the mouth, oral thrush, are also more common for people with Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Vision problems – Light sensitivity, blurred vision, and corneal damage are all caused from dry eyes.
- Lung, kidney, or liver problems – Inflammation in the lungs, kidneys, or liver causes dangerous conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and other issues which can lead to decreased kidney function or hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.
- Lymph nodes – Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes, develops in a small percentage of people with Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Nerves – Numbness, tingling, and burning in the hands and feet, peripheral neuropathy, can develop.
Identifying and Detecting Sjogren’s Syndrome Early
Since Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks the salivary and tear secretion glands, scientists have focused on identifying the antibodies responsible. If these antibodies can be identified and lead to an early diagnosis, patients can start appropriate treatments that will prevent the irreversible damage done when left undetected. These new antibodies include:
- SS – salivary gland protection
- CA6 – caronic anhydrase 6
- PSP – paratoid secretory protein
These new antibodies were detected in 45% of patients who were diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Antibodies already used for diagnosis, Ro and La, were not used for this study.
Surprisingly, at least one of the above-mentioned antibodies was present in 76% of patients who reported symptoms for less than two years and who also lacked the Ro and La antibodies required for a definitive diagnosis. Finally, most of the patients tested who had the SS, CA6, or PSP antibodies also reported severe dry mouth and dry eye symptoms.
After detecting the new antibodies in mice, scientists began testing human patients at Buffalo General Medical Center. Here they found the same antibodies, even at early stages of the disease. This leads scientists to an exciting conclusion. Early detection equals less harmful long-term side effects.
Learn more from TheraLife – check out TheraLife Eye Autoimmune formula designed specifically for Sjogren’s and other autoimmune diseases and dry eyes. Call 1-877-917-1989 US/Canada