Sjogren’s Syndrome is a chronic and incurable disorder of the autoimmune system in the body, wherein the exocrine glands of the person afflicted with the disease come under attack by the body’s own immune cells, causing them to malfunction and cease their production of saliva and tears. These exocrine glands are moisture-producing glands, and are responsible for producing tears and saliva. If attacked by this autoimmune system disease, then the person experiencing the condition will experience dryness of the mouth and eyes.
Basically, our immune systems actually work by protecting our bodies from harmful invading cells or organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. What our autoimmune cells basically do is destroy these harmful invading organisms in order to prevent them from doing any damage.
However, a person experiencing Sjogren’s Syndrome will actually have his own immune cells attack his own exocrine glands, thereby causing damage on those glands, preventing them from functioning properly. There is a change that occurs in a Sjogren’s Syndrome afflicted person’s immune system, causing the subject to lose the usual controls that his body has on his immune cells, causing white blood cells to invade and destroy the moisture producing glands in the body. As a result, the person will have difficulty producing tears and saliva, as he was normally able to do prior to the disease.
The moisture producing glands in the eyes and mouth are not the only moisture producing glands that come under the attack from this disease. Other glands, such as those that can be found in the stomach, intestines and pancreas, are also affected by the disease, causing dryness in other body parts as well, such as the nose, skin, throat and airway passages.
Aside from being an autoimmune system disorder, Sjogren’s Syndrome is also considered to be a rheumatic disease, which means that it is a disorder that can cause inflammation in a person’s connective tissue, joints, muscles, bones and skin. The body’s framework responsible for supporting all the organs and tissues are the ones that come under attack from the condition in this respect.
Normally, Sjogren’s Syndrome is not associated with other diseases as it usually occurs by itself in a person afflicted with the condition. This type of Sjogren’s Syndrome is called a primary Sjogren’s Syndrome. However, there is also another way that this disease can occur, and that is through its association with other diseases, also known as a secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome. Some of the rheumatic diseases that the secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome occurs with are polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.
The disease can afflict almost anyone, but a majority of the people diagnosed with the condition are actually women. Over 90% of the reported cases of Sjogren’s Syndrome have been women. Aside from that fact, Sjogren’s Syndrome also occurs normally with people whose age ranges from 40 years and over, though there are some rare cases that children are afflicted by the condition. The condition doesn’t have any ethnic or racial preference, which means that this disease could affect anyone in any given time.
It is believed by most scientists that this disease is triggered by viral or bacterial infections, wherein the invasion in the body, causing the immune system to act, stimulates the immune system. However, the disease alters the immune cell’s target, and actually forces the immune cells (called lymphocytes) to direct their attack on the moisture producing glands located on the eyes and mouth of the subject.
Aside from that fact, these immune cells do not stop attacking the glands, even though they are supposed to stop the attack and die after they have accomplished their task. Their continual attack on the glands forces the person with Sjogren’s Syndrome to experience the symptoms for the duration that they continue to have the disease.
This type of disease is actually difficult to diagnose correctly since most of the symptoms that are associated with the condition can be found with other different diseases as well.
Although currently there are no known cures for the disease, there are certain treatments that can help the person afflicted with the condition get some form of relief from the symptoms.
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