Sjögren's Syndrome Treatment in Metro Atlanta

Overview of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the body’s moisture-producing glands. It often accompanies other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. The condition is characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth but can also affect other parts of the body, leading to a range of symptoms and complications. At Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia (ARG), we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Sjögren’s Syndrome to help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for our patients.

Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome

  • Dry Eyes: Burning, itching, or gritty sensation in the eyes.
  • Dry Mouth: Feeling like your mouth is full of cotton, difficulty swallowing, and frequent thirst.
  • Swollen Salivary Glands: Particularly those located behind the jaw and in front of the ears.
  • Joint Pain and Stiffness: Similar to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Skin Rashes: Especially after exposure to the sun.
  • Dry Skin: Itchiness and cracking.
  • Vaginal Dryness: Discomfort during sexual activity.
  • Persistent Cough: Dry and hacking.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and low energy levels.

Diagnosis of Sjögren’s Syndrome

  • Physical Examination: Conducted by a rheumatologist at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia to check for symptoms and signs of Sjögren’s Syndrome.
  • Blood Tests:
    • Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test: Commonly positive in Sjögren’s patients.
    • Anti-SSA and Anti-SSB Antibodies: Specific markers for Sjögren’s Syndrome.
    • Rheumatoid Factor (RF): Often positive in Sjögren’s patients.
  • Eye Tests:
    • Schirmer’s Test: Measures tear production.
    • Eye Staining: Uses dyes to show damage to the surface of the eyes.
  • Imaging Tests:
    • Sialography: X-ray of the salivary glands.
    • Salivary Scintigraphy: Nuclear medicine test to measure salivary gland function.
  • Biopsy:
    • Lip Biopsy: Removal of a small piece of tissue from the lip to check for inflammatory cell clusters.

Treatment Options for Sjögren’s Syndrome

  • Medications:
    • Artificial Tears and Saliva Substitutes: To relieve dryness.
    • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and inflammation.
    • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil): Used to treat symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
    • Immunosuppressants: Drugs such as methotrexate and azathioprine to control the immune system.
  • Therapies:
    • Punctal Plugs: Small devices inserted into the tear ducts to help retain moisture in the eyes.
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength.
    • Infusion Therapy: Administered in our in-house infusion suite for medications requiring intravenous delivery.
  • Lifestyle Changes:
    • Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
    • Diet: A balanced diet to support overall health and reduce inflammation.
    • Oral Hygiene: Regular dental check-ups and good oral care to prevent tooth decay and infections.
    • Moisture Control: Using humidifiers to add moisture to the air.
  • Surgical Options:
    • Salivary Duct Procedures: To open blocked ducts and improve saliva flow.

Living with Sjögren’s Syndrome

  • Managing Dryness: Using medications, artificial tears, and saliva substitutes to relieve dryness.
  • Joint Pain Management: Using medications and physical therapy to manage pain and maintain function.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Keeping up with appointments to monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy.
  • Medication Adherence: Taking prescribed medications as directed to manage symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Eye and Dental Care: Regular check-ups to manage dryness-related issues and prevent complications.

Frequently Asked Questions | Sjögren’s Syndrome

What causes Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder with an unknown exact cause. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors.

How is Sjögren’s Syndrome diagnosed?
Sjögren’s Syndrome is diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, eye tests, imaging studies, and biopsies.

Can lifestyle changes help manage Sjögren’s Syndrome symptoms?
Yes, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, practicing good oral hygiene, and using humidifiers can help manage symptoms.

What are the common triggers for Sjögren’s Syndrome flares?
Common triggers include stress, infections, and environmental factors such as dry weather.

Is Sjögren’s Syndrome hereditary?
There is a genetic component to Sjögren’s Syndrome, but having a family member with the condition does not guarantee that you will develop it.

What is the role of immunosuppressants in treating Sjögren’s Syndrome? Immunosuppressants help control the immune system, reducing inflammation and preventing damage to tissues.

How can I manage fatigue associated with Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Managing fatigue involves balancing rest and activity, staying hydrated, eating a nutritious diet, and following your treatment plan.

Contact Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia

For comprehensive Sjögren’s Syndrome care, schedule an appointment with Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia. Call us at 404-255-5956 or use our online contact form. We proudly serve patients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond, providing expert care and personalized treatment plans.

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