A Possible Diagnosis for Dry Eyes and Mouth

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Symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome

Most everyone can relate to an occasional bout of dry eyes or dry mouth. But if you live with both every day, it could be Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) syndrome.

Typical signs and symptoms include dry, gritty or burning eyes, intermittent blurry vision, a dry mouth that causes difficulty swallowing, dental cavities and enlarged parotid glands. The parotids are a pair of salivary glands behind your jaw and in front of your ears. Other signs and symptoms may include dry skin or vaginal dryness in women, joint pain and stiffness and fatigue.

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Sjogren's syndrome, an immune system disorder, is diagnosed most often in people over age 40, according to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. It's nine times more common in women than men, and half of the time it's accompanied by another autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

There's no cure for Sjogren's syndrome, but self-care measures and treatment can improve symptoms. Self-care measures include drinking plenty of fluids, using artificial tears, moisturizers and a humidifier.

Various medications can be used to treat severe symptoms, including medications to increase saliva productions, immunosuppressants to suppress the abnormal immune system, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling. Another strategy is to seal tear ducts that drain from the eyes with collagen or silicone plugs or with a laser procedure.

Check with your care provider if you are troubled by dry eyes and dry mouth. These symptoms have many causes, including side effects of medication and prior radiation to the head or neck.

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