World Sjögren's Day (pronounced "show grins") is observed on 23rd July every year. It was established by
the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation, which is involved in the research, education
and awareness about the autoimmune disease
syndrome is a common though lesser known autoimmune disease
- A lack of
awareness about the condition results in a number of undiagnosed cases
- The Sjögren's
Syndrome Foundation continues its efforts to increase the awareness about
. The day coincides with
the birth anniversary of Dr. Henrik Sjögren, who first described the condition
and after whom it is named.
is an extremely common
autoimmune condition, and yet not too many people are aware of the condition. The Sjögren's Syndrome
Foundation has been in the forefront to promote awareness and research in the
. Its scientific initiatives, some of which are ongoing, include the
development of a new Sjögren's classification criteria which was recognized by
International bodies, the development of clinical practice guidelines to
standardize the treatment available to patients, supporting the development of
new diagnostic methods and treatments to help to deal with the condition, and
the establishment of the Sjögren's Registry, to maintain a record of the
‘The World Sjögren’s Day, is observed on the 23rd of July to increase awareness about the condition. The two main symptoms of the condition includes - dry eyes & dry mouth with associated symptoms that can include arthritis, fatigue or muscle pain.’
Here are some facts
about Sjögren's syndrome that will help you understand the clinical features
and problems associated with this condition:
can you do on World Sjögren's Day? You
can increase your awareness about the condition by reading about it or talking
- Sjögren's Day is an autoimmune disease that mainly
affects three organs, the lacrimal gland, the parotid gland, and the
joints. The lacrimal gland is a small
gland on the upper and inner aspect of each eye that secretes tears. The
parotid glands are situated under each cheek and secrete saliva. Sjögren's
syndrome therefore causes dry mouth and dry eyes. Symptoms indicating a
dry mouth may include difficulty with talking, chewing or swallowing,
peeling of lips, a burning throat and tooth decay.
- Like other
autoimmune diseases, where the body itself reacts against a part, Sjögren's syndrome is more
common in women, who account for 90 percent of the cases. Most cases occur over the age of 40 years.
- Sjögren's syndrome can also affect other organs
including the lungs. Fatigue is a
common feature. Women may suffer from vaginal dryness as well. Patients
may be at a higher risk of developing a blood cancer called lymphoma.
- Sjögren's syndrome affects about 4 million Americans
and is the second most common rheumatic autoimmune disease. This number excludes the large number of undiagnosed
patients. Yet, not too many people are aware of this condition.
- In most cases, the condition is diagnosed around 5
years after the symptoms appear, since doctors may treat the individual
conditions without considering the overall combination of symptoms. Doctors may not be able to correlate the symptoms,
as the patient may go to an orthopedic
surgeon for the joint disease, an eye doctor for the eye symptoms, and a
dentist for repeated dental caries. This results in delay in initiating
the correct treatment.
- The delay in
diagnosis and the inability to function normally affects the patient
physically and emotionally which could negatively impact the life of a patient.
- In 2012, the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation aimed to
reduce the time for diagnosis through its 5 year goal, "50in5":"To shorten
the time to diagnose Sjögren's by 50% in 5 years!" It planned to achieve this by increasing awareness
among the general public, as well as the
healthcare professionals, and increasing the involvement from its
stakeholders. In fact, the efforts of the foundation has already reduced
the time to diagnosis to three years.
- Like most other
autoimmune diseases, Sjögren's
syndrome does not have a cure, but the symptoms and progression of the
disease can be controlled with the help of multiple medications. The
treatment, hiring additional helps and inability to do certain jobs could
increase the financial burden of the patient.
. This will help you to suspect the condition, if
you or any of your family member suffers from the symptoms, and thus assist in its
diagnosis. Also, you can increase awareness about the condition in your
community or even in social media so that people suffering from similar
symptoms who are undiagnosed can receive treatment early and thereby prevent
Ten Sjögren's Survival
- You will be
required to take pain killers intermittently. Opt for non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and remember that they are best taken
with food or milk to avoid stomach upset.
- Try and find a
support group. There are numerous online groups too that are available. Be
well informed about the disease and what is best for you.
- Find a specialist
doctor or a caregiver who will be supportive, willing to listen to you, and understands your disease well.
- Eat food that is
soft and moist. Avoid rinsing mouth with alcohol or witch hazel - they can
cause further dryness.
- Use moisturizing
gels or vitamin E to sore parts of the mouth or tongue for relief.
- You can use
petroleum jelly or bath oil or coconut oil or olive oil, instead of
moisturizers (if not available) .
- Use preservative
free artificial tears frequently, and don't use any creams on eyelids, as they may cause irritation, if they enter the eyes.
- Don't stand too
long under a hot shower, as it
can wash away the natural oil of the skin. Use
moisturizers after shower on the skin.
- If you go
swimming - take a shower afterwards and apply a moisturizer to reduce
dryness and itching of the skin.
- Always try and
get some exercise even if there are aches and pains
that trouble you. Avoid becoming a couch potato!
- Sjögren's Fact Sheet - (https:www.sjogrens.org/)