Symptoms of Sjögren Syndrome

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The symptoms of Sjögren Syndrome fall into three main groups:

Person with tongue hanging out and dry

Glandular involvement (caused by injury to the exocrine glands). Glandular involvement includes dryness symptoms according to the glands that stop functioning (mouth, eye, vagina, skin, etc.). It also includes inflammation of the main saliva-producing glands (the parotid and submandibular glands). 

The dryness symptoms can vary from one patient to another and, in some cases, can become very serious. Its appears in a chronic, slow and progressive way that varies over time in intensity and frequency. The appearance of symptoms may also be influenced by external factors (stress, psychological aspects, mood, changes in the weather, etc.). The most frequent symptoms occur in more than 95% of patients with this disease.

  • Dry mouth (xerostomy). Caused by reduced saliva production that produces a dry mouth, difficulties in chewing, swallowing and speaking, greater likelihood of developing cavities and infections in the mouth, as well as inflammation and irritation of the gums and tongue.
  • Dry eye (xerophthalmia). This occurs due to reduced tear production by the lacrimal glands. It produces a sensation of burning, grit in the eyes, pain and blurred vision.
  • Other symptoms of dryness (less frequent) include a dry nose (pain, bleeding, loss of smell), dry skin (irritation, itching, easy to wound), vaginal dryness (pain during sex, infections), or a dry pharynx (dry, irritating cough).
Tired woman, sweating

Effects on the patient’s general condition. Tiredness; generalised pain throughout the body, joints, and muscles; fever for no apparent reason; sleep disturbances and depression-type symptoms. These symptoms are very frequent in the general population and can have very varied causes (not only Sjögren Syndrome), so they should always be evaluated together with the other two groups of effects.

Hands with arthritis

Systemic or extraglandular effects (caused by injury to other organs). This is the most serious, although it only affects a small proportion of patients (around 10-15%). Any organ may be involved. The most frequent are:

  • Arthritis
  • Skin lesions
  • Raynaud's phenomenon (hands turning white and blue in the cold)

And the most serious are:

  • Involvement of the kidneys
  • Lungs, or
  • Nervous system.

These internal manifestations sometimes give few symptoms and tend to worry the Sjögren specialist more than the patient, for whom the most frequent and annoying symptoms are the dryness and general symptoms.This is why it is important to properly monitor the disease.

Signs of the Sjögren Syndrome

Signs are the effects produced by the disease that are "visible" to both the patient and the medical team. In the case of Sjögren Syndrome the most frequent are:

Irritated red eye

Redness of the eyes.

Face with dry skin

Dry and fragile skin.

Swelling or pain in the arm where the treatment has been administered

Inflammatory skin lesions.


Angular cheilitis (inflammation) ("cold sores").

Increased tooth decay

Increased number of cavities.

Person with a swollen tongue outside

Swollen tongue.

Patient with swollen glands

Enlarged lymph nodes.

Head of a person showing the parotid glands with an arrow pointing upward

Enlarged parotid or submandibular glands (rare).

Substantiated information by:

Manuel Ramos Casals

Published: 28 May 2019
Updated: 28 May 2019

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