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Sjögren’s syndrome is a disease that affects the glands that make moisture. It most often causes dryness in the mouth and eyes. It can also lead to dryness in other places that need moisture, such as the nose, throat, and skin.
Most people with Sjögren’s syndrome are women. It can occur at any age and in any race. But it is rare in children and most often shows up after age 40.
The main symptoms are:
Sjögren’s syndrome also can affect other parts of the body, including the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, and nerves. Symptoms can include:
Sjögren’s can also make you very tired.
Doctors use a few ways to diagnose Sjögren’s:
Doctors may also use:
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease. The immune system is supposed to fight disease by killing off harmful viruses and bacteria. But with autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's healthy cells and tissues by mistake.
In Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks the glands that make tears and saliva (spit). The damage keeps these glands from working right and causes dry eyes and dry mouth.
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of Sjögren’s syndrome. They think it may be caused by a combination of two things: