Signs and symptoms
The hallmark symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome are a combination of dry eyes and a dry mouth. The lacrimal glands are situated behind the brows, and are the ones that produce the aqueous (watery) tears.
This gland is stimulated by emotion (e.g. crying if upset) and irritation (cutting an onion). It is also stimulated on an ongoing basis by the nerves in your cornea (or front surface of the eye). If your cornea is dry, the nerves will send a signal to produce more watery tears. If you have Sjogren’s Syndrome however, the gland is unable to produce these tears.
Ocular symptoms include:
• Dry eyes
• Blurred vision
• Discomfort ranging from mild to debilitating
• Inability to cry tears
The salivary glands are situated under the tongue, on each side of your lower jaw as well as below the ear. They are stimulated by food in the mouth as well as thoughts of food. Saliva not only moistens chewed food in preparation for swallowing, it also contains enzymes that break down starch in particular, so there is less digestion required in your gut.
Oral symptoms include:
• Dryness and burning sensation of the tongue
• Difficulty swallowing dry food
• Tooth decay
• Rough, dry tongue
• Inability to spit
• Needing a glass of water beside the bed at night
Although the salivary and lacrimal gland are principally affected, there are many other symptoms of this disease:
• Dry skin
• Vaginal dryness
• Dry nasal passages
• A chronic cough (due to dry bronchial mucosa)
• Numbness in limbs
• Muscle and joint pain
• Thyroid problems