By their very definition, autoimmune illnesses are complex and difficult to understand. After all, these are conditions in which your primary defender — your immune system — mistakenly turns on your own body, often causing great discomfort and harm.
There are more than 100 different autoimmune disorders, including Sjögren’s syndrome. This disorder affects between 2.5 and 4 million people in the US, 90% of whom are women.
To help you better understand Sjögren’s, Dr. Jonathan Singer and our team here at HealthFirst have pulled together the top five signs of this disorder.
1. Dry eyes
Millions of Americans experience dry eyes for any number of reasons, from age to chronic infections. Mixed in among all this is Sjögren’s syndrome, which attacks your otherwise healthy tear-making system.
The lack of moisture in your eyes leaves them feeling gritty, itchy, and irritated.
2. Dry mouth
In addition to hampering your ability to produce tears, another symptom of Sjögren’s is dry mouth, as your immune system also attacks your salivary glands.
Dry mouth is as it sounds — your mouth is extremely dry — but it can also lead to sores, cracked lips, and difficulty swallowing.
3. Vaginal dryness
Sjögren’s syndrome is a disorder in which your immune system attacks your mucous membranes and any glands that secrete moisture. While dry eyes and dry mouth are the hallmarks of Sjögren’s, you may also experience vaginal dryness.
4. Sore joints
As the disorder progresses, some people develop widespread joint pain, as well as swelling and stiffness in their joints.
As your body wages a battle against healthy cells, the end result can leave you feeling fatigued. Many autoimmune disorders count chronic fatigue among their symptoms, and Sjögren’s is no different.
Treating Sjögren’s syndrome
In most cases, doctors treat Sjögren’s syndrome on a symptom-by-symptom basis, which may relieve some of the discomfort but does little to help with long-term health.
We feel that this approach is short-sighted and we prefer to treat patients in a way that addresses the underlying disorder. It’s worth understanding that many autoimmune illnesses are caused by hormonal imbalances, heavy metal toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies.
To determine whether any of these play a role, we run a battery of tests that measures your health from every angle. Based on what we find, we devise an appropriate treatment plan, which may include chelation therapy, hormone replacement therapy, and/or IV infusion therapy.
If you want to learn more about Sjögren’s syndrome and how you can find relief, contact one of our two locations in Greenwood Village, Colorado, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, by phone or online today.