Tomorrow, July 23rd, is World Sjogren’s Day 2010. Here are some things about Sjogren’s Syndrome.
- It is an autoimmune disease: your body’s immune system malfunctions for some reason and begins attacking your own body instead of the foreign bodies it should be attacking. In the case of Sjogren’s, your white cells attack your moisture-producing glands.
- It affects an estimated 4 million people, making it one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases.
- It’s not just dry eyes and dry mouth. Dryness can affect all body systems, including digestive tract, joints, organs–pretty much everything! Personally, I have mildly dry eyes and mouth, but have joint pain mimicking rheumatoid arthritis, sun sensitivity, fatigue, and digestive problems.
- It is a progressive disease, meaning there is no cure and oftentimes continues to worsen.
- Because the symptoms of Sjogren’s are vague and widespread, it often takes years to diagnose it. It took me over 10 years to get a diagnosis! No one could figure out why my hands hurt constantly. Finally, I saw a neurologist who performed a carpal tunnel nerve test and said I needed to visit a rheumatologist.
- The majority of Sjogren’s sufferers are women, and a majority of them were diagnosed in their late 40s. I was officially diagnosed when I was 41, but had had symptoms since my early 30s.
- There is no medication available that primarily treats Sjogren’s. Most patients live with a cocktail of prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, and supplements to treat their symptoms.
For more information, please visit the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. And pass this along so that others will become familiar with Sjogren’s!