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Do I Have Sjögrens?

If your eyes feel gritty and you need to blink more than you used to, if you need more drinks of water through the day because your mouth feels like a desert, and/or your skin feels dry itchy, burning, cracked; if you feel a profound fatigue most of the time, it’s a possibility. You needn’t have all, or even most of these symptoms; One or more can lead your doctor to a diagnosis. The trouble is that in the early stages, the symptoms come and go and are often non-specific, until later when the disorder becomes acute. Some symptoms of Sjögrens are:

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Generally ill with low-grade fever
  • Itching, gritty eyes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Severe dental cavities
  • Hoarseness
  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Swollen glands

In spite of the fact that Sjögrens (Sjs) is the cause of suffering for 4 to 5 million Americans, it is not on the tip of all Doctor’s tongues, If your doctor evades your questions and you think that Sjs could be the cause of your troubles, keep looking for a Doctor who has others like you in their practice. Then, the necessary tests to make an objective diagnosis can be performed.  Check out our Resources Page for a list of institutions where you can get more information.  And remember, the earlier you have this checked out by your Doctor, the better.

Below, you can find some of the most recent questions answered by Dr. Carteron, you can find more by searching the menu on the far right. Questions and Answers are organized by topic, or you can ask Dr. Carteron a question by visiting this page.


Treatment Guidelines for Sjogrens: Biologics, Fatigue, Joint/Muscle Pain/Inflammation

First Treatment Guidelines for Sjogren's Disease. Use of biologics, management of Fatigue, and treatment of musculoskeletal disease. Supported by Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation http://www.sjogrens.org http://rheumatologic treatment guidelines sjogrens disease Share with your treating physician's. dr c  Read More →


Pleural effusion Chilblains Sjogrens

Dr. Carteron, My question is regarding pleural effusions and Sjogren's. My earliest symptoms began with shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic sinusitis, rashes, low grade temps, muscle and joint pain, dry eyes, & brain fog. I had 1000 cc's of fluid drained from my right lung. The same lung same location was drained again about five years later but less fluid was removed. I have another pleural effusion at the present time that can only be seen on CT scan or sonogram, this one is on the same lung but different location. I have gone through many lung/breathing tests some of which were done at Mayo in Rochester. I have seen three different Pulmonologists who all say this is caused by an autoimmune condition, the first even said he was sure it was Lupus. They all say my tests show a mild case of asthma until the most recent test and the doctor said it was inconclusive for asthma so maybe it is the beginning of COPD. I have had a hard time getting treatment from Rheumatologists,... Read More →


Internal Tremors and Buzzing with Sjogrens

Q:  Hello.  Thank You So Much for your presentation and information at the SS conference.  It was my first time attending.  I learned so much and met some amazing people.  I'm in a fight for my life as are most Sjogrens' patients. But, I am so limited due to my insurance coverage; luckily I do have coverage,but I have very few choices of who I can see.  My Doctor cannot explain why I experience internal tremors, particularly at night.  I have a buzzing sensation throughout my body after consuming dairy, sugar, breads, anything with preservatives, basically just about everything. Please help. A:  Buzzing and tremors suggest something "neurological". Foods or additives perhaps suggest "allergic" type of trigger. A Neurologist, especially if they have experience with Sjogrens may be able to shed additional light on your symptoms. An elimination type diet might be an option to try to calm things down. It is not unusual to notice more of these types of symptoms at night, similar... Read More →


Challenges of Get'in a Diagnosis

Q:  I am currently in the process of differential diagnosis for an autoimmune disorder, but nobody seems to be able to help me.  My rheumatologist wants me to get diagnostic information from an eye doctor, dentist, and radiologists, while those doctors want me to get a diagnosis from a rheumatologist!  Further, my rheumatologists won't help me manage symptoms without more information and suggested that in 10-12 years (I am in my late 20s) I may have a clear-cut enough case to treat.  I am looking for a new rheumatologist who is more interested, and less afraid of my relatively young age, but that could take months.  My current symptoms suggest Sjogrens (e.g. extreme dry mouth, chronic dry eye that has worsened with onset of systemic symptoms, positive ANA+SSB, with joint pain/radiological findings, etc).  I've started calling general dentists but I can tell I am not asking the right questions.  Do you have any suggestions for what kinds of questions I should ask to find... Read More →


Tendons & Ligaments in Sjogrens

Q:  I seem to get pain in both groins that feel like it is ligaments.  Does Sjogren's affect ligaments?  Also,  I have had Achilles tendinitis for over 2 years.  Could that also be from Sjogrens? A:  Not usually. Where tendons and ligaments insert on bone if inflamed is called enthesitis. This process is most commonly connected with Spondyloarthritis.. i.e. Psoriatic  Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Associated Arthritis and Reactive Arthritis. Some of these may be associated with a gene HLA B27. There have been some reports over the years suggesting a small subset of those with Sjogren's may also have symptoms of Spondyloarthritis and thus enthesitis. Most have been HLA B27+. I have had a couple of patient's over the years that seem to have this Overlap or Subset. dr c  Read More →


Interferon alpha 2 in Sjogrens 1999+

Q:  I'm new to your forum.  I have SS, with autonomic neuropathies.  I'm one of the few males with this syndrome.  The list of autonomic dysfunction symptoms I have is fairly long.  I've researched much about this disease since I was diagnosed. Stating that, I stumbled across some journal entries about treating SS with oral interferon A.  My rheumatologist, and neurologist had no knowledge of this.  But my neurologist sent me a note recently letting me know he researched this after our last appointment, and is open to trying this therapy.  I've been treated with IVIG for the past year, and recently an infusion of Rituxan.  He wants to wean me off of IVIG, and give the Rituxan time to work.  IF I don't get good results we'll discuss further the interferon route. My question is do you have any experience with interferon a, given orally?  Or do you know of this treatment for SS, and can offer any advice. Thank you in advance. A:  There were studies with oral interferon alpha... Read More →


What's Not Sjogrens

Q:  Hi Dr. Carteron,  I've been diagnosed with Primary Sjogrens, but have other illnesses, too.  Recently, I have been waking up Every day from the most horrendous pains in my very low abdomen and my low back. I'm unable to move due to the pain increasing when I try, so it takes me around 30 minutes to rock & roll until I can move. Once up, the pain subsides somewhat, but remains all day, every day to a lesser degree. Have reported to GP, who discovered in 3 months, I've lost 2 stones in weight. This is completely without trying, although it is much needed. I am curious to know whether you'd think this would be connected to the Sjogren's, or if its likely to be something else.  If you think it is connected, what would be your thoughts on treatment, testing, etc.  Thanks for any help you are able to provide me with.  Kind Regards, A:  Weight loss without trying often is a clue of something. It would be unusual to be caused by Sjs alone.   Lower abdominal pain could... Read More →


Do Dental Infections, Tooth Extraction, or Dental Anesthesia Trigger Dry Mouth?

Q:  I was diagnosed with Sjogrens in 2007.  Dry mouth was one symptom that was not a major problem for me until 6 weeks ago.  At that time I developed a terrible oral infection from a bad capped tooth.  An oral surgeon drained the infection and 10 days later the tooth was extracted.  Ever since I had that infection and extraction my dry mouth and throat is off the charts!  My mouth and throat feel bone dry and I can't get relief.  What could have happened from that infection and the two procedures I had to trigger this horrendous dry mouth problem? A:  I think it is possible. I have seen patient's who describe similar events. Not clear, at present, if related to the infection, the pain/trauma of the extraction, or the anesthetics (epinephrine/lidocaine) that need to be used. Hopefully, it will gradually improve the further you are out from the episode. dr c  Read More →


Can Massage or TENS Cause Pain?

Q:  Hi Dr Carteron, recently I was told I have Sjögren's and I was told to see a RA doctor. I haven't found one close yet. I have severe feet pain and have been seeing a neurologist and he said I had minimal nerve damage and he had no clue why my feet were so bad. I told him about the Sjögren's diagnosis and he thinks that may be the reason for my feet pain. The question I have for you is does massage or tens unit normally cause more pain? I was in therapy and it literally made me sick. The pain was so severe. Is massage not a good idea? A: Don't know that it is common...but I have had patient's tell me that massage or acupuncture caused them pain. Sometimes, those patient's can tolerate acupressure. Would think you could try gentle massage and see what your response will be. dr c  Read More →


Telemedicine - International

Q:  Hello Dr. Carteron, having seronegative Sjogren's presents a problem when you need a diagnosis.  Thankfully I have a doctor here in Chicago that gave me the diagnosis.  But I have a friend in Canada who has gone through so much hell trying to get a diagnosis.  Can you, or another medical professional that you know, consult and help deliver a diagnosis?  Thank you very much. A:  In the US, physicians are licensed in each State. To render a medical opinion, the patient must be seen in person to "establish" care. The person could elect to travel to see a specific physician or clinic. There is a Sjogren's Foundation in Canada and a list of Canadian support groups on the US Sjogren's Foundation web site http://www.sjogrens.org. Hopefully, your friend can find a Sjogren's Specialist locally to render an opinion. dr c  Read More →