Sjogren’s syndrome is one of those conditions that can easily be confused for fibromyalgia. That fact, of course, can make it difficult to get a diagnosis. Luckily, there are a few things that make it possible to tell the difference between these two conditions.
That’s why it’s important to learn about both conditions if you think you might have them. Recognizing your symptoms will make it easier for you to get a diagnosis, and thus to get treatment. So what exactly is Sjogren’s Syndrome? Why does it create symptoms that are so similar to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is, to put it simply, an autoimmune condition that leads to a wide range of symptoms. An autoimmune condition is a disorder of the body’s immune system that essentially leads to it turning against you.
In a healthy immune system, white blood cells produce something called antibodies. These antibodies identify and attack foreign cells like viruses or bacteria. This is why we are able to live in a world that’s filled with deadly bacteria. And after destroying these bacteria, the antibodies become conditioned to attack these cells immediately after they appear, which is why we are able to develop immunities to certain diseases after being exposed to them.
But an autoimmune condition occurs when these antibodies become conditioned to attack your own cells instead. So rather than destroying bacteria and viruses, your immune system begins destroying cells all over your body. As a result of this damage, the tissue of the body begins to become inflamed and when this inflammation affects vital organs, autoimmune diseases can become life threatening.
Luckily, Sjogren’s syndrome isn’t often fatal but it can be extremely unpleasant to live with. Sjogren’s produces a wide variety of symptoms, but the most significant in terms of getting a diagnosis is the fact that it attacks the moisture producing cells in the body. So the tear ducts in your eyes stop producing moisture, leading to dry, scratchy eyes. And the mouths of people with Sjogren’s get dried out as well.
But while dry eyes and mouth might not sound that bad, Sjogren’s creates a wide variety of symptoms that are actually quite similar to fibromyalgia in many ways.
How Is It Similar To Fibromyalgia?
Sjogren’s, like any autoimmune condition, can create symptoms like fibromyalgia. For instance, Sjogren’s often causes a widespread nerve pain, or neuropathy, which leaves your limbs and extremities tingling or suffering from inexplicable muscle pains.
In addition, Sjogren’s can lead to chronic fatigue, which leaves you feeling tired constantly. And with that fatigue comes mental symptoms like confusion and trouble remembering basic details like people’s names or where you left your car keys.
So, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, and mental fog. Sounds a lot like fibromyalgia, right? That’s why the two conditions get confused so often. Luckily, there are a few symptoms that make it possible to tell the difference.
There’s the obvious fact that Sjogren’s dries out your eyes and mouth, unlike fibromyalgia. And in addition to dry eyes and mouth, it often leads to swollen salivary glands in the mouth which are often painful. It also causes pain in the esophagus, which leads to difficulty swallowing. Finally, Sjogren’s can often lead to coughing fits and even pneumonia.
Obviously, the best way to tell the difference between fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s is by comparing these symptoms. They’re quite distinct symptoms of Sjogren’s rather than fibromyalgia.
How Can You Treat It?
Luckily, the condition is easily treated with a few different medications. First, the easiest treatment method is to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). These are things like common over-the-counter painkillers which work to reduce the inflammation that comes with Sjogren’s.
In addition, if these NSAIDs aren’t enough, you can also turn to corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are hormones produced by the body that reduces inflammation. And they can be injected to treat symptoms as well.
Finally, doctors often prescribe immunosuppressant drugs to treat Sjogren’s. Immunosuppressant drugs slow down the activity of the immune system, which is obviously a good option for treating a condition caused by an overactive immune system.
But either way, the good news is that thanks to these effective treatments, Sjogren’s is very manageable. The vast majority of people with the condition live normal, full lifespans. But it’s still important to get treatment as soon as possible, which is why being able to recognize the symptoms is vital.
So let us know, do you have Sjogren’s?How did you find out? Let us know in the comments.