What Is The Connection Between Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition that often accompanies other autoimmune conditions. Some of these include lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It is estimated that up to 15 to 18 percent of people living with lupus also have Sjogren’s syndrome.1 It is considered primary Sjogren’s syndrome when it occurs on its own, with no other autoimmune conditions present. If a person has it and another autoimmune issue, it is considered secondary Sjogren’s syndrome.2,3 While we do not know the exact reason, there are some theories as to why Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus may run together.
What is Sjogren’s syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition that causes a person’s immune system to mistakenly attack certain healthy parts of their body. Most commonly, Sjogren’s syndrome affects the tear and saliva glands. Other fluid-producing areas, like the nose, throat, skin, or vagina can also be impacted. Rarely, Sjogren’s syndrome can affect the liver, kidneys, or lungs. Women are the most commonly affected by Sjogren’s syndrome. The average age of onset is around 45 to 55 years old.2-4
- Dry mouth
- Dry or burning eyes
- A sensation of grittiness in the eyes
- Swelling of the glands around the neck or the head
- Trouble swallowing, especially dry foods
- Irritation of the esophagus and acid reflux (GERD)
Some people with Sjogren’s syndrome may experience joint pain or swelling, even if they do not have another joint-related autoimmune condition. If the skin or other organs are affected, a person may experience rashes, inflammation of their lungs, or issues with their liver or kidney functioning.2