Sjögren's Syndrome

Sjogren's Syndrome, pronounced “Showgren’s syndrome”, is an autoimmune condition. This means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your body's healthy tissues. In Sjogren's syndrome, this particularly affects the glands that make our tears and saliva. 

Around half the people who have Sjogren’s syndrome also have some form of arthritis.

Sjögren’s syndrome can affect many different parts of the body. Common symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth (or difficulty eating dry foods)
  • Swelling of the glands around the face and neck.

Some people may also experience dryness in other areas of the body (such as the nose, throat, and vagina) and skin.

What causes Sjögren's Syndrome?

It is not yet known what causes Sjögren’s syndrome. It is believed that it could be caused by genetic factors and/or possible viral infections, which activate the immune system. But, this is not yet confirmed in research.

What can I do to manage Sjögren's Syndrome?

Currently there is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but there are ways you can control the symptoms. Most people with the condition are able to live normal lives without any serious complications.

See your doctor for treatment and advice
Your doctor will also help you to build your healthcare team: 

  • You may also be referred to a rheumatologist (a specialist in arthritis and inflammatory conditions) for further tests and treatment.
  • Regular dental care from a dentist is important to help stop dental problems.
  • People with dry eyes should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) regularly to check for damage to the eye.

Learn about Sjögren’s syndrome and play an active role in your treatment
Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. 

Learn ways to manage symptoms
Most treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms of dry eyes and mouth, and preventing and treating long-term complications such as infection and dental disease. Treatments may include:

  • Regular use of artificial tears and lubricating ointments for the eyes to manage dryness
  • Drinking water and/or using artificial saliva, mouth rinses or sugar free lozenges for mouth dryness
  • Moisturisers for the skin
  • Avoiding dry conditions e.g. drafts from heaters/air conditioners, or dusty or windy weather
  • Medicines prescribed by your doctor (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids or medicines that work on the immune system). Medicines and arthritis. 

Live a healthy life.
A healthy lifestyle is important for looking after your overall health and wellbeing. This includes staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking if you smoke, and reducing stress. Learn more about ways to stay healthy. 

Acknowledge your feelings and seek support
It is natural to feel scared, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life. Arthritis and emotional wellbeing

More information and support

Download our handy info sheet Sjogren's syndrome

Register for Arthritis Assist to speak with someone else living with arthritis. 

Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 

Browse our Arthritis Insights articles for tips and information to help you live well with arthritis.