Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body, causing substantial dryness in the eyes and mouth, which are the most commonly affected areas. Along with symptoms of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas.
About half of the time Sjögren’s syndrome occurs alone, and the other half it occurs in the presence of another autoimmune connective tissue disease such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, or Scleroderma.
In addition, Sjögren’s syndrome is often misrepresented as a rare disease, however it is estimated that there are four million Americans living with this disease, making it one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases.
While some people experience mild discomfort, others suffer debilitating symptoms that greatly impair their functioning. Early diagnosis and proper treatments are important as they may prevent serious complicationsfrom developing.
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS)
Sjögren’s syndrome is marked by an overgrowth of inflammatory infiltrate in the joints. Sensitizing cells around the joints to the presence of foreign tissue causes the body’s tissues to overproduce the hormone, Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
HGH stimulates growth of white blood cells, platelet cells, and immune cells. The result is a massive build-up of inflammatory cells and tissues in the joints, causing the skin to scab.
Additionally, there are glands in the mouth, esophagus and lungs that produce mucus to help with symptom relief. These glands also secrete the hormone, Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA), which promotes the differentiation of blood cells into both B- and A-type blood cells and is also produced in response to ligand stimulation.
Heterosis: Heterosis is a genetic condition caused by an imbalance of resistant and responsive leukocytes that destroys the body’s immune response. Bribery of the liver, spleen, adrenal glands and gallbladder, among other organs, allows harmless white blood cells to become infected and enterbacteria and viruses through the mucous membranes lining the digestive system.
Due to B- and A-type blood cells, a vital part of the immune response, this condition results in severe fatigue and low energy levels, along with hair loss, acne and hives.
While heterosis can affect anyone at any age, it is more prominent in adults between 40 and 60 years of age and in those with chronic illness that results in inflammation. For example, a 45-year-old man with inflammation in the liver may have increased levels of HLA antibodies, producing masked cystic acne.
During the development of any disease, certain cells within the immune system either overproduce or underproduce a protein known as Interleukin 6 (IL-6). The overproduction can be a sign that there is a defect in the body’s ability to properly produce immune cell markers needed to identify and respond to pathogens.
In Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system overreacts to the presence of these cell markers, mistakenly believing that foreign cells are present. As a result, the immune system produces IL-6 to counter the inflammatory response. Spontaneous inflammatory cells begin to multiply and overgrow around the joints. This then causes pain and swelling of the joints causing several symptoms described below.
- Joint pain is the most common symptom as joints are overgrown due to excessive stimulation of the joints by the immune system.
- This pain is worse in the morning which is when the cell overgrowth becomes greatest.
- Pain is worse in the late afternoon or early evening and worsens during hot flashes.
Atrophic Rhinosis: Along with joint pain, atrophic rhinosis affects the lungs, reproductive organs, and skin.
WHAT IS Sjögren’s syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome is caused by an immune reaction called Systemic Inflammatory Collagen Disease, which triggers the release of two proteins a growth hormone and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b). These proteins cause the body to undergo remodeling activity called autophagy, which is the recycling and destruction of damaged cellular components.
This is causing the body to mistakenly produce more advanced forms of non-fiable proteins. When too many of these proteins are produced at the same time, it is called autophagy drift and leads to excessive accumulation of these proteins.
If this process continues too long, the body begins a process of programmed cell death called programmed cell death 2 (PCDNA2). Primary symptoms of SS typically show up as fatigue, muscle weakness, nervousness, burning thoughts, trouble concentrating, and mood swings.
A closer examination of symptoms, as well as genetics and environment can also help determine if Sjogren’s is truly a genetic autoimmune disease or a coincidental connective tissue disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Prevention is always the best strategy. Aim to decrease inflammation by actively eliminating triggers like gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol and sugar. Health professionals often recommend limiting red and processed meats and eating organic when possible.
Another great tool to help limit the effects of Sjogren’s is to exercise regularly. Not only does it provide some of the necessary nutrients such as TGF-b, it can also combat oxidative stress. This is the process by which the body is able to better fight bacteria and viruses in the systems. It is also a great protective tactic against infections and potentially a cause of auto-immunity.
Weight training can increase muscle mass, reduce muscle soreness, increase tissue elasticity, improve heart function, build new connective tissue, and increase the amount of oxygenated and blood-soaked capillaries. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial strengthening your connective tissue can be to overall health, and athletic performance.
PREDICTIONS FOR CHANGING
While there is currently no cure for SS, there are a number of systems that can be targeted. These include:
- Tissue Repair & Regeneration
You are at an increased risk for re-developing Sjogren’s if you’ve been hospitalised or have a significant injury. Getting the body back to its pre-injury state is often the best prevention.
Your diet should be an emphasis here as getting enough protein, healthy fats and the right antioxidants is very important.
By blocking those triggers that cause inflammation, you may be able to reduce the inflammatory process and improve quality of life.
The following will discuss the signs and symptoms of SS, its impact on the body, and pharmaceutical treatments.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome typically appear in years rather than months, fluctuating between 20% and 30%, with 60% of adults exhibiting one or more signs and symptoms. While everyone experiencing symptoms will respond in a different way, there is a typical progression.
Ocular symptoms may present in one or both eyes.
Common causes of dryness in the eyes include chemical burns, eye infections, drug-induced eye inflammation (for example, cyclosporine), and eye irritation from the environment.
Eye muscle involvement includes dryness of the conjunctiva, cornea, tear film, and the uveal (outside) wall of the eye.
The skin may also become parafected (itchy).
The most common primary symptom is dryness in the face, especially the forehead. In particular, the corners of the eyes may become watery, while the forehead may experience a prominent rash.
Headache is a common symptom with Sjögren’s syndrome or increased sensation of pressure.
Poor modulation of temperature and light sensitivity may cause signs similar to photophobia. These can be subtle, such as reduced vision, dryness, annoying itchiness or even puffiness.
Although not a full-blown autoimmune disease, Sjögren’s syndrome is a complex autoimmune condition.
The pain associated with Sjögren’s syndrome can be caused by damage to the joints, decreased range of motion, headaches and lipodystrophy.
Hepatic involvement can cause sudden weight gain, decreased lung function, uric acid buildup in the urine, as well as acute suicidal thoughts.
The chronic fatigue associated with Sjögren’s syndrome is a common complication that can be triggered by increased workload, stress, suppressed immune system function, high concentrations of lactate, dehydration, or severe trauma.
Intermittent debilitating fatigue is a significant concern especially before the onset of full-blown disability.
While the cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is not fully understood, one of the major theories is that the condition results from the body’s inability to regulate the correct pH balance in the blood, resulting in acidic insufficiency, which leads to dysfunction of the liver and kidneys.
People with Sjögren’s syndrome typically have decreased levels of vitamin B12, vitamin C and riboflavin.
Vitamin C deficiency leads to liver enzymes that affect the liver and nervous system, while low levels of vitamin B12 increases the risk of a skin infection (perioral dermatitis).
Lupus and Scleroderma are physiological causes of extreme fatigue.
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