Sjögren’s syndrome


Sjögren's syndrome

As if Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Costochondritis, aren’t enough (plus a little of Premature Ventricular Contractions for good measure), my over-achieving ass just had to contract (I’m sure contract is the right word, more like I was gifted) Sjögren’s syndrome. Sjögren’s syndrome (pronounces “SHOW-grins”) is another autoimmune disease, that is characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth. Now I’m not talking just any average dry eyes and dry mouth, I’m talking the fucking Sahara dry like I’m chewing on bags of Pillsbury Best™ All Purpose Flour.

I love how Sjögren, just wasn’t satisfied with normal spelling, it had to use little dots above the “o” (in case you want to nerd out, it is called Umlauted characters, traditionally found in German and Hungarian words). This makes it that much more fun for its victim, who not only has the traditional Sahara dry mouth and eyes but also can’t pronounce the damn disease that is having fun with your body.

Just for the record Sjögren’s doesn’t just attack the mouth and eyes, it has a whole host of symptoms, like fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, neurological complications, and lymphomas. Me, I already have all the fatigue and musculoskeletal pain that I can handle. On the surface, it just looks like dry mouth and eyes, to someone who isn’t in the know, but dry mouth leads to a whole host of dental issues. Your own saliva actually protects your teeth and mouth from decay and once that layer of defense is gone, your teeth will quickly start to decay lucky me, I already have that issue. I have fractured both my Lateral Incisors and both of my Cuspids.

Sjögren’s, also brings with it, dryness in the nose, sinuses, ears, throat, skin, and, in women, the vagina. Patients may notice irritation, a gritty feeling, or painful burning in the eyes; dry eyes are at increased risk for infection and are susceptible to corneal damage if not treated. A dry mouth can lead to difficulty eating and swallowing dry foods. It can lead to dental cavities, chipping, breaking, and loss of teeth. A dry mouth may increase gingivitis (gum inflammation) and oral yeast infections (candida) that may cause pain and burning. Sjögren’s frequently causes swelling of the parotid glands (the glands below the ears that run along the jawline). Dryness can increase infections in the eyes, mouth, sinuses, lungs, and vagina. (Source)

Of course, there are treatments for it, like Pilocarpine which has a whole host of wonderful side effects like chills, cough, diarrhea, increased need to urinate, joint pain, muscle aches, and pains, nausea, tiredness or weakness (Uhm, thank you, but I’m all maxed out on tiredness for this year and next); and excessive sweating.

I just so happen to have an eye exam this week too, and my optometrist agrees with my Rheumatologist that it is Sjögren’s syndrome.

This would explain my dental issues and why I have problems swallowing food.

** Autoimmune disease – is where your body’s natural defense systems start to attack itself. Your body is actually destroying the good normal cells. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that affect a wide range of body parts.

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