Is Sjogren’s Syndrome A Connective Tissue Disease?

Sjogren’s syndrome is a common chronic autoimmune disease which is characterized by dryness of moisture-producing glands of our body. In this disease, the function of exocrine glands like salivary glands, lachrymal glands get impaired. It can also affect other organs too. It can develop alone or in association with other connective diseases. It develops more commonly in women in their middle age. Its symptoms include dryness of eyes, mouth, salivary glands, and many more. It is diagnosed by the presence of antinuclear antibodies in the blood. Its symptoms depend on its symptoms.

Is Sjogren’s syndrome A Connective Tissue Disease?

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects the moisture-secreting glands of our body. It can also involve organs such as kidney, heart, etc. Sjogren’s syndrome is a connective tissue disease that develops in person individually or in association with other connective tissue diseases like, lupus, RA, and scleroderma.

Sjogren’s syndrome (SS) is a common autoimmune disease that impairs the functioning of the moisture-producing glands in our body. In this disease, the overactive immune system attacks its own moisture-secreting glands considering them as invaders. This disease can involve other organs also. This disease develops alone or in association with other connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.it is seen more commonly with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Connective tissue disease refers to a group of disorders that affect the tissues binding the other structures together. It can involve eyes, skin, blood, blood vessels, bones, tendons, cartilage or muscles of the body. It can also affect major organs like the heart or lungs.

Types Of Sjogren’s Syndrome

There are following two types of Sjogren’s syndrome-

Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome– this type of SS develops alone in the body by itself.

Secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome– this type of SS appears in association with other connective tissue diseases.

Symptoms Of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Mouth- SS is represented by dryness of the moth. This is also called xerostomia. Its other symptoms of mouth are-

  • Cracks in the tongue
  • Burning in the tongue
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • trouble in speaking due to lack of lubrication in the mouth
  • Enlargement of the parotid gland
  • Painful parotid gland

Eyes – dryness in the eyes cause gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes. It is felt most in the morning. Other symptoms of eyes include redness, itching, lack of tears and photosensitivity due to the loss of lining of the conjunctiva.

Glands– the disease may cause symptoms like-

  • Dryness of mucous glands of upper and lower respiratory tract leading to a chronic dry cough
  • Reduced secretion of mucus from mucus glands in the gastrointestinal tract leading to dryness in the esophagus and irritation in the stomach.
  • Dryness of vagina during sexual intercourse resulting in pain and irritation

Extraglandular– nearly one-third of cases of primary SS affect the extraglandular parts. Its symptoms involve-

  • Pain in the joints
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Increased fatigue
  • Fevers of low-grade type

Other organs– it may also affect lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. These organs show symptoms of inflammation. In 6 % of cases, it may also affect lymph glands leading to lymphomas.

Diagnostic Criteria For Sjogren’s Syndrome

Its diagnostic criteria involve the following-

  • Diminished secretion of salivary glands
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Presence of antinuclear antibodies
  • Presence of rheumatoid arthritis factor

In the majority of patients with mild SS, the first symptom of the disease is mucosal dryness.

Diagnosis Of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome can be diagnosed by its clinical symptoms, medical history of the patient and few tests. A blood test is done to detect the presence of antinuclear antibodies and rheumatoid factors. Biopsy of mucous glands like salivary glands can help in detecting the large lymphocytes formed in the glands. Measurement of saliva production by sialography can also help in the detection of the disease.

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