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BCM - Baylor College of Medicine

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Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Clinic

How Sjögren's Syndrome Affects the Body

Sjögren's (SHOW-grins) syndrome is a disorder of the immune system that causes white blood cells to attack moisture-producing glands throughout the body. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first – resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva.

Although the most common symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, and the central and peripheral nervous systems. Patients have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. Most people also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain as well as other dryness issues such as trouble swallowing. Sjögren's can occur alone or along with other autoimmune connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma.

Although you can develop Sjögren's syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at the time of diagnosis. The condition is more common in women. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.

See text version of Ways Sjögren's Syndrome May Affect the Body.