What are the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome?
The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are:
- dry eyes and/or mouth
- feeling tired and achy.
Many people don’t have any other symptoms, but the range and severity of symptoms can vary a great deal from person to person.
Your eyes may be dry and feel sore, irritable or gritty. Some people find strong lights can be uncomfortable, while others find their eyes become sticky with mucus.
Mouth and throat problems
Your mouth may become dry and you may have mouth ulcers, which can sometimes cause a sticky feeling in your mouth or throat. It may be difficult to swallow and your sense of taste may be altered. Your voice may be hoarse or weak, and some people have a dry cough.
Occasionally a very dry mouth can lead to other problems such as fungal infections (e.g. thrush), an unpleasant taste in your mouth and increased dental decay. Your salivary glands may also become painful and/or swollen.
Fatigue (extreme tiredness) is one of the most common symptoms, and it can’t be cured by a good night’s sleep. Some people may also feel down or depressed.
Aches and pains
Your joints may be painful and swollen due to inflammation, while some people have a general achy feeling or tenderness at various points around their body. Joint problems are usually less severe than in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Other parts of your body may also be drier than normal, for example:
- your digestive passage, making it difficult to swallow food
- your bowel, causing symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (e.g. abdominal pain)
- your vagina, making sex uncomfortable
- your skin, which may also be itchy or unusually sensitive to strong sunlight
- your air passages, making you more sensitive to irritants such as smoke or dust
Other problems and complications that can sometimes be associated with Sjögren’s syndrome include:
- cold, blue fingers (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- migraine-like headaches
- swollen lymph glands in your neck, armpits or groin
- aggravated menopausal symptoms
- problems with your nervous system, such as weakness or numbness
- inflamed blood vessels (known as vasculitis)
- purple spots on the lower legs (purpura)
- chest pain (caused by pleurisy) or breathlessness
- liver or kidney problems