Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Sjögren's Syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells and tissues.

Illustration of the immune system

In the case of Sjögren's syndrome, the body's white blood cells fight the glands that produce your body's moisture.

Facts about Sjögren's syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is estimated to be one of the most common autoimmune disorders in the U.S. As many as 4 million Americans are affected by Sjögren's syndrome. About 90 percent are women.

Types of Sjögren's syndrome

Doctors divide Sjögren's syndrome into two types:

  • Primary Sjögren's. This is the term used when Sjögren's syndrome appears by itself, without any other disease or illness. About half of Sjögren's syndrome cases are primary Sjögren's.

  • Secondary Sjögren's. When Sjögren's syndrome occurs along with other autoimmune disorders, such as scleroderma, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, it is called secondary Sjögren's. It accounts for half of Sjögren's cases.


Symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome can range from mild to severe—from discomfort to debilitating symptoms that can affect your overall quality of life. The two most common symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth. From there, the disease can evolve into symptoms that affect the entire body.

Symptoms can include:

  • Dry mouth, which can lead to trouble with talking, chewing, or swallowing

  • Dry eyes that can have a gritty or burning feeling

  • Dry, peeling lips

  • Soreness or cracking on the tongue

  • Dry or sore throat

  • Tooth decay

  • Dryness of the skin

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Dry nose

  • Changes in the ability to taste or smell

  • Fatigue, or tiredness

  • Joint pain

  • Digestive issues


Sjögren's syndrome is often hard to diagnose. That's because the symptoms can overlap or look like those of other conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or even multiple sclerosis.

Rheumatologists use a point-based test to figure out if your symptoms might be related to Sjögren's syndrome. The higher number of points you have, the more likely it is that you have the disease.

Along with physical symptoms, other tests that can help identify Sjögren's syndrome include blood tests, as well as eye tests and dental tests to take a closer look at eye- and mouth-related symptoms.


Woman using eye drops

There is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome, but treatments can be used to relieve symptoms. The key is to work with a rheumatologist who is committed to helping you find the answers to your problems.

Common eye and mouth symptoms can often be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) eye and mouth drops. Your doctor may be able to prescribe stronger formulas if OTC versions don't help.

If your symptoms from Sjögren's syndrome are more systemic, you might find relief from some of the immunosuppressive drugs that are used to treat other autoimmune disorders. Pain medicine might be needed, too, depending on your symptoms.

Home care

Besides remedies to help with dry eyes, dry mouth, and pain, diet can play a role in easing Sjögren's syndrome symptoms. For example, many people find that they're better off avoiding foods that are spicy, hard, crunchy, or acidic, along with alcohol, which all tend to make symptoms worse. Smooth, soft, and creamy foods like soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes are often good choices. Some people with Sjögren's syndrome also have celiac disease and need to avoid gluten as well.

Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help relieve symptoms of dry eye, and clinical trials on using supplements are underway.

The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation also suggests that you:

  • Avoid medicines that might further dry your eyes, such as certain antihistamines and antidepressants. Talk with your doctors about these choices.

  • Don't sit near air conditioning or heating vents. The dry air can also contribute to dry eyes.

  • Use eye lubricants daily, even if you don't have symptoms, and try sleeping with special eye gels that your doctor can prescribe.

  • Use warm compresses daily to soothe irritated eyelids.

  • Brush your teeth after each meal and floss daily to help prevent cavities caused by dry mouth.

  • Get routine dental checkups.

  • Avoid carbonated or acidic drinks.

  • Chew sugarless gum, if needed, to help lubricate your mouth.

  • Try using a room humidifier. 

Sjögren’s Syndrome - WellSpan Health

Author: Myers, Wyatt
Online Medical Reviewer: Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2012-07-24T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2012-08-02T00:00:00
Published Date: 2012-08-02T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2012-02-27T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.