24 June 2024

Sjögren’s syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune diseases

sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a disease that is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, we will talk about it in more detail in today’s post.

The International Classification of Diseases divides diseases into several groups, including: diseases of individual systems, endocrine, genetic, neurological, neoplastic and autoimmune diseases. Diseases belonging to the latter group are characterized by quite unique disorders. They are a topic not fully explored and their diagnosis still requires intensive research. Interestingly, women are the most affected.

Autoimmune diseases are disorders of the immune system, i.e. the body’s immune system. The body exhibits autoaggressive actions, i.e. those that cause damage to its own tissues. One of the autoimmune diseases is Sjögren’s syndrome. The following article will therefore focus on the characteristics of this disease, on determining their causes and frequency of occurrence. In addition, in the article we will also find the most popular symptoms and what are the methods of treatment, and even the use of diet in treatment.

What is Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome belongs to the group of autoimmune diseases. It is named after Henrik Sjögren, who described Sjögren’s syndrome in 1933 . It was previously described, in 1892, by Jan Mikulicz-Radecki, therefore, you can meet with another name for the syndrome, namely: Mikulicz-Radecki disease.

In this disease, as in other autoimmune diseases, the human body creates antibodies that attack its own cells – proteins. Initially, inflammation occurs and then tissue function is impaired. The exocrine glands are mainly damaged, e.g. salivary glands and tear glands. Most often, the so-called glands appear on the glands. lymphatic infiltrates. Changes may also occur in internal organs such as: lungs, kidneys, thyroid gland or organs of the gastrointestinal tract. It is common that gland damage occurs simultaneously with inflammatory changes in many systems and organs.

Sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome – causes and incidence

Unfortunately, as with most autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown. It can result from human genetics, but it can also be a consequence of infection and other disorders of the immune system. The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome may be, for example, carriers of histocompatibility antigens or viruses: HIV, Epstein-Barr or cytomegalovirus, and even hepatitis C.

Due to the difficulty in unequivocally diagnosing Sjögren’s syndrome based on its numerous symptoms, it is impossible to accurately determine how many cases of the disease have been recorded so far. It is estimated that the incidence of the disease ranges from 0.5% to 5% of the population. Interestingly, Sjögren’s syndrome most often affects women around 50 years of age. The female to male ratio is approximately 9:1.

Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Due to the fact that Sjögren’s syndrome mainly causes damage to the lacrimal glands and salivary glands, the so-called “glandular” symptoms. Changes in the functioning of the salivary glands cause that caries progresses much faster due to insufficient secretion of saliva and dry mouth. It also happens that the salivary glands are enlarged and painful. If the disease affects the lacrimal glands, it causes insufficient tear secretion. The effect of such changes is conjunctivitis, dry eye, feeling of sand under the eyelids or conjunctivitis.

There is also a group of “non-glandular” symptoms. They can be related to general weakness or a decrease in energy, but they can also be associated with more serious problems. Insufficient salivation can lead to respiratory or digestive problems. Quite often Sjögren’s syndrome is accompanied by: otitis media, inflammatory infiltrates within the lungs, gastritis and nausea.

Sjögren’s syndrome – natural treatment and methods to alleviate symptoms

Due to the unknown causes of Sjögren’s syndrome, it is not possible to completely cure it and remove the problem at the base. The only option is the treatment of symptomatic, i.e. alleviating the symptoms caused by the disease. Appropriate pharmacological treatment should be selected by a doctor after performing appropriate diagnostic tests. However, it is possible to use ingredients and products available in our homes to soothe and treat the symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome through natural treatments .

If the problem is insufficient salivation, chewing gum may be a good solution. This process, despite the malfunctioning of the salivary glands, will stimulate them to work and produce more secretions. In case of dry eyes, you can use moisturizers and artificial tears available in pharmacies. However, it is worth taking care of the air quality at home and at work and investing in air humidifiers, thanks to which the mucous membranes will not dry out so quickly.

Diet and Sjögren’s syndrome

Autoimmune diseases usually result from unknown causes. It will be obvious, therefore, that we will not find a clearly defined diet, the use of which will protect us from getting sick. We will also not find magical products that will heal us. However, it is worth considering what we eat so as to be able to alleviate some of the symptoms accompanying the disease. Given that this syndrome may appear as a secondary disease after infection, an appropriate, immune-enhancing diet for Sjögren’s syndrome will help reduce the risk of getting sick.

If we want to take care of our immune system, we should take care of the highest content of vitamins and microelements in the diet. The most valuable in this case will be vitamin C. We can find the most of it in fruits such as blackcurrant, orange or in vegetables such as peppers, kale or Brussels sprouts. In addition, vitamin C strengthens the mucous membranes, which are particularly vulnerable to damage as a result of Sjögren’s syndrome. It will also be important to provide vitamins A and D, which will help in ailments related to dry eyes. If you do develop Sjögren’s syndrome , a diet rich in these vitamins will certainly ease your symptoms.

treatment of Sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome – biological treatment

Trying to understand the causes of autoimmune diseases as much as possible, doctors are constantly working on developing newer and better methods of treating them. Thanks to the development of medicine, it is possible to use biological treatment methods that imitate the mechanisms naturally occurring in the human body and use natural biological substances.

In aggressive cases of the disease, biological treatment can be used as a method of treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome . Patients are given an anti-CD20 biologic drug, rituximab. These are antibodies obtained by biological engineering. The advantage of such a treatment is the speed of its action. By directly affecting the immune system, you can achieve much better results than in the case of symptomatic treatment. Biological drugs are still not easily available to us and unfortunately many patients will not qualify for such treatment.

Sources of information on Sjögren’s syndrome forum

Often, when we are sick, we look for tips and treatment advice on the Internet. Of course, you cannot heal yourself. Always, if we notice disturbing symptoms in ourselves, we should first go to the doctor. If the doctor diagnoses the disease, then it is also worth reaching for the advice and experiences of other patients. It is best to use the possibilities of the Internet forum.

If you want to find other people with Sjögren’s Syndrome , log in to the forum related to this condition. The experience of such people can be extremely useful. This disease often occurs in the company of other diseases, the symptoms of which we can underestimate. Thanks to the advice of other patients, it will be easier to determine what we should pay attention to and how we should take care of ourselves. Sometimes, even the simplest clue as to which artificial tears available in pharmacies best moisturize the eyes can be a lifesaver.

Sjögren’s syndrome – causes of the disease?

Glucocorticoids are used in the initial treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome. In the absence of improvement, doctors most often use polytherapy with immunosuppressive drugs.

Based on the available research, it can be concluded that there is a relationship between the occurrence of Sjogren’s syndrome and the neurological disorders of a given person.

Although the causes of most autoimmune diseases, including Sjögren’s Syndrome, are unknown and complete cure is yet to be discovered, such a diagnosis should not be treated as a death sentence. This disease causes many unpleasant symptoms, but they can be alleviated not only by using products available in pharmacies, but also by a properly adjusted diet and natural treatment. The constantly developing fields of medicine related to biological treatment give hope for finding a way to fully cure Sjögren’s syndrome. 

Literature: Ejma M., Madetko N., Waliszewska-Prosół M., Neurological complications of Sjógren’s syndrome , Via Medica, 2017.

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