Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome

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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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Treatments

Treatments may slow the progression of the disease and manage your symptoms.

Artificial Tears

 Using artificial tears can help alleviate dry eyes.

Cyclosporine

This medication reduces inflammation in the glands around the eyes and increases tear production.

Pilocarpine or Cevimeline

These medications stimulate saliva flow.

Oral Hygiene

Dry mouth may increase your risk for cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and oral yeast infections such as thrush. Your doctor will help you manage your dental care habits.

Immunosuppressants

Complications or serious symptoms affecting your entire body may require drugs that suppress your immune system. These may include methotrexate or biologic agents that reduce inflammation. 

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tests

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:

Blood Tests

Your doctor will order blood tests that identify the presence of antibodies associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.

Schirmer’s Test

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 eye drops for the procedure.

Lip Biopsy

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.

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Advanced Care for Sjögren’s Syndrome

Ongoing Studies
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.

12th in the U.S., 1st in NC
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked for rheumatology and is the best in North Carolina.

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