Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Sjögren’s syndrome commonly affects your tear glands.

Sjögren’s syndrome commonly affects your tear glands.
beginning of content

Sjögren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a condition of your immune system. It commonly affects your eyes and salivary glands, but can also affect other parts of the body.

What is Sjögren’s syndrome?

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system attacks your own healthy cells.

In Sjögren’s syndrome, your immune system typically attacks your eyes and salivary glands. Other parts of the body may also be affected.

The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown. It is more common in women, people over 40 and those who have rheumatic disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Most people with Sjögren’s syndrome are able to live normally, without any serious complications – especially if they take care to manage their symptoms.

Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms

People with Sjögren's syndrome can have:

  • dry eyes, including a painful burning, itchy or gritty feeling
  • a dry mouth, making it difficult to swallow, speak or eat dry foods
  • swelling of the glands in the face and neck areas.

Eye and mouth dryness can also increase your risk for eye infections and dental problems.

Some people with Sjögren's syndrome also get:

A few people will have their liver and kidneys affected. A few people will also develop lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).

Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosis

Besides your symptoms, Sjögren’s syndrome is diagnosed through tests, including:

  • Schirmer’s test – to check whether your eyes are producing enough tears
  • blood tests – to check for antibodies common in Sjögren’s syndrome
  • imaging to test how your salivary glands are working
  • biopsy – a small sliver of tissue from your lip is checked for presence of inflammatory cells.

Sjögren’s syndrome treatment

There is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome. Treatments to relieve symptoms can involve medications to increase the production of saliva and treat complications like arthritis.

Surgery is an option for some people, to stop the eyes draining tears.

Your doctor may also prescribe you medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or medicines that suppress the immune system.

It is important to see your doctor or rheumatologist (joint specialist) regularly to make sure the condition stays well-managed.

There are also ways to manage symptoms yourself:

  • dry eyes – use artificial tears or an eye lubricant; regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist (eye specialist), wear protective eye-wear to avoid exposure to the wind or sun
  • dry mouth – drink frequent sips of water; avoid drinking alcohol; use artificial saliva, mouth rinses, sugarless gum or lozenges; keep your mouth very clean, limit sugar, regular check-ups with a dentist
  • general dryness – increase indoor humidity; use preservative-free moisturiser for skin; avoid drying conditions such as drafts from heaters and air conditioners, use a saline spray for a dry nose, avoid exposure to dusty or windy weather.

Last reviewed: May 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 6 results

Sjögren’s syndrome

This sheet has been written for people affected by Sjögren’s syndrome. It provides general information to help you understand how you may be affected and what you can do to manage it. It also tells you where to find further information and advice.

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

What is Sjogrens Syndrome?

Sjögrens syndrome is an illness of unknown cause in which the immune system attacks the lacrimal and salivary glands decreasing the production of tears, saliva and moisture production in the body.

Read more on Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre website

Sjogren's syndrome

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the eyes and salivary glands, but can affect different parts of the body. Symptoms include dry and itchy eyes, a dry mouth, thirst and swallowing difficulties. Although there is no cure, proper treatment should provide comfort and relief.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Sjogren's syndrome - myDr.com.au

Sjogren's syndrome is a chronic (ongoing) disease in which a person's immune system attacks their lacrimal (tear) glands and salivary glands.

Read more on myDr website

Sjogren's Syndrome | myVMC

Sjogren's syndrome is a rheumatological disorder that causes dry mouth and dry eyes. It affects people with autoimmune conditions like arthritis and lupus.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Autoimmune illness: What is Autoimmune illness?

Our body uses the immune system to protect itself from harmful things such as bacteria & viruses. This system has lots of different parts which work together to keep out damaging germs, & to attack & destroy any which manage to get inside your body.

Read more on Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback