September 1, 2011
With the news that Venus Williams‘ tennis career may be ending because of Sjogren’s syndrome, I thought it purposeful to review the condition in light of the fact, that many patients may now wonder if they have it as well. Sadly, there is the inevitable mass “hysteria”, and I use the term very loosely with all due consideration, that arises in our information fueled world, especially when symptoms may appear “similar”. If Kim Kardashian had it, there would be line ups in dental offices around the globe and People and Star and Us would turn into the Merck manual.
Sjögren’s syndrome is a disorder of the moisture-producing glands, such as the tear glands (lacrimal glands) and the salivary glands. These glands become infiltrated with white blood cells (lymphocytes) that are part of our immune system. This causes the glands to produce less moisture, leading to dryness of the eyes and mouth. In some cases, lymphocytes also infiltrate internal organs such as the lungs, the kidneys, the nervous system, the liver, and the intestines. Because these infiltrates can affect multiple organs, they can cause a wide variety of symptoms.