Duke rheumatologists are among the nation’s leading experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome. In this chronic autoimmune disorder, your white blood cells attack your saliva and tear glands, causing dry mouth, dry eyes, and sometimes dry skin. We work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to reduce your symptoms, prevent complications, and help you live comfortably.
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Our goal is to diagnose Sjögren’s syndrome during its earliest stages in hopes of preventing or reducing complications. Though dry eyes and mouth may be early signs of Sjögren’s syndrome, these symptoms may indicate another condition. Your evaluation will include a comprehensive review of your medical history, a comprehensive physical exam, and the following tests:
Your doctor will order blood tests that identify the presence of antibodies associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.
This test assesses whether your eyes are producing enough tears to retain moisture. It involves placing a special paper strip under your eyelids for several minutes to measure the amount of moisture. Your doctor may use numbing eyedrops for the procedure.
A lip biopsy evaluates your saliva production. Small glands that make saliva are located just below the inner surface of your lip and are most accessible. Your doctor will numb the area, then make a tiny incision in your inner lip. After removing a few of these minor glands, your doctor will close the incision with stitches that will be absorbed by your body.
Advanced Care for Sjögren’s Syndrome
Research is a hallmark of our Sjögren’s program, and our doctors are helping to set national guidelines through their work. As our patient, you may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, testing the newest therapies on the market before they are made widely available.
A Team Approach to Care
Our rheumatologists work with multiple Duke specialists, including ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists (ENT doctors), who offer expertise in managing the dryness of the eyes and mouth typically associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our rheumatology program is rated as high performing among the nation's top hospitals, according to US News & World Report for 2021–2022.