Sjögren’s syndrome can be classified into two main types: primary Sjögren’s syndrome and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome.
1. Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome: This is the most common form of Sjögren’s syndrome and occurs when the condition develops on its own, without any other underlying autoimmune diseases. In primary Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own exocrine glands, leading to dryness of the eyes and mouth, as well as other systemic symptoms.
2. Secondary Sjögren’s Syndrome: Secondary Sjögren’s syndrome occurs in conjunction with another autoimmune disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma. In these cases, the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome often overlap with those of the primary autoimmune condition. Secondary Sjögren’s syndrome tends to have more systemic manifestations and may involve more severe organ involvement.
It’s worth noting that Sjögren’s syndrome can also be further categorized based on the extent of systemic involvement and severity of symptoms. This classification is known as the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Sjögren’s syndrome disease activity index. It helps to assess the activity of the disease and guide treatment decisions.
Differentiating between primary and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome is important as it may have implications for treatment and management. However, regardless of the type, both primary and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome require regular monitoring, symptom management, and appropriate medical care to maintain quality of life and prevent complications.
Sjögren’s syndrome can present with a wide range of symptoms that can vary in severity and may affect different parts of the body. The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome include:
1. Dry eyes (xerophthalmia): This is one of the hallmark symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. It can cause a gritty or sandy sensation in the eyes, redness, and blurred vision.
2. Dry mouth (xerostomia): Another common symptom is a persistent feeling of dryness in the mouth. This can result in difficulty speaking, swallowing, or tasting food. It may also lead to an increased risk of dental cavities and gum disease.
3. Fatigue: Many individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome experience chronic fatigue, which can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life.
4. Joint pain and swelling: Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, similar to that experienced in rheumatoid arthritis, can occur in individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome.
5. Dry skin and rashes: Dryness can extend beyond the eyes and mouth, leading to dry skin that may become itchy or prone to rashes.
6. Dry nose and throat: Nasal dryness can cause a stuffy or runny nose, frequent nosebleeds, and a sore throat.
7. Vaginal dryness: Women with Sjögren’s syndrome may experience vaginal dryness, which can lead to discomfort during sexual intercourse.
8. Swollen salivary glands: In some cases, the salivary glands may become enlarged and tender.
9. Digestive problems: Sjögren’s syndrome can affect the digestive system, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty swallowing.