Sjögren’s syndrome: dry eyes, mouth due to gland inflammation

For good eye function and a moist mouth, the tear and salivary glands must produce sufficient moisture or mucus. This function can be affected by Sjögren’s syndrome to such an extent that general dryness is caused. The condition falls under autoimmune diseases and can sometimes be accompanied by other immune-related conditions. What does this syndrome mean, what are the symptoms and why is a medical check important for swollen glands?

Sjögren’s syndrome

  • Symptoms
  • Fatigue due to saliva deficiency
  • Influence of the immune system
  • Sometimes combined condition
  • Possible direct causes
  • Relationship with non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Treatment of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Symptoms

The immune system influences the functioning of the glands in such a way that insufficient gland fluid is released. It almost always involves the tear glands and salivary glands, causing dryness. In other words, the person suffers from dry, red, crackly-feeling eyes in combination with a very dry mouth. You may have the feeling that there is always something in your eyes, causing the eyes to feel burning. Food intake is also difficult due to the lack of saliva, and fatigue also occurs. People often have bad teeth because teeth are not sufficiently protected by saliva. Sometimes it can be accompanied by a flu-like feeling, together with swollen glands. It mainly occurs in women aged forty and older. The condition is believed to be hereditary.

Fatigue due to saliva deficiency

It sounds strange, but because the person produces too little saliva, they become tired. This has to do with food intake. Normally one ingests food, where the saliva is mixed with the food through chewing. Saliva ensures that starch is directly converted into glucose, which is absorbed directly into the blood through the mouth and tongue. It constitutes the first application of energy. So this is missing! Secondly, food is difficult to swallow, with the first step of digestion being skipped. Strictly speaking, the person must eat more to achieve the same energy level. Because food intake is also difficult due to a lack of saliva, people will have less energy.

Influence of the immune system

The immune system must ensure that enemies of the body are fought. In other words, they form the shock troops that counteract the influence of viruses and bacteria. This principle can sometimes be turned against the body itself, causing so-called autoimmune diseases. It means that the action of substances, glands, muscles and organs is counteracted, which can cause various body problems.

Sometimes combined condition

Because it is an autoimmune system related problem, it can also be associated with other serious autoimmune diseases. The syndrome can occur on its own, but can also be a consequence of, for example, GPA, rheumatoid arthritis or another resistance-related condition. In addition to the persistent complaints of the mouth, throat and eyes, people also have other painful complaints. Consider severe joint pain with rheumatism or breathing problems with various other diseases.

Possible direct causes

So far it is unclear what causes this persistent condition. It is clear that signals from the brain to the glands are disrupted or the gland receptors do not work. In other words, there must be damage to the functioning of nerves or glands. Or the signal does not come across (damage to nerves), because the axon (nerve pathway) or the myelin (conduction fluid) is damaged. In this case, the syndrome can certainly be accompanied by, for example, Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine released at the nerve endings may be attacked or the gland receptors may be affected. If this is the case, it may, for example, be accompanied by Myasthenia Gravis. The result of all methods of attack is the same. Information is not transferred properly, so the glands are not instructed to secrete sufficient fluid.

Relationship with non-Hodgkin lymphoma

If Sjögren’s syndrome has been diagnosed, 5% of patients have a chance of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. So if you have the aforementioned complaints in the eyes, mouth and throat, the lymph nodes may also act up. If this is the case, you should always receive additional medical attention. So be sure there is nothing else going on and get yourself checked.

Treatment of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Because no direct cause can be identified, there is no medicine to combat the syndrome. In other words, the person will always suffer from it. However, there are remedies that encourage the glands to produce saliva and tears. Chewing gum regularly also seems to help somewhat. Be informed by the treating physician. You can also use additional eye drops to reduce the nuisance.

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