Associated Conditions of Sjogren's Syndrome


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About associated conditions: Associated conditions are those which appear statistically related, but do not have a clear cause or effect relationship. Whereas the complications are caused by Sjogren's Syndrome, and underlying causes may be causes of Sjogren's Syndrome, the following list shows associated conditions that simply appear with higher frequency in people who have Sjogren's Syndrome. In some cases, there may be overlap between this list and risk factors for Sjogren's Syndrome. People with Sjogren's Syndrome may be more likely to get a condition on the list of associated conditions, or the reverse may be true, or both. Whether they are causes of, caused by, or simply coincidentally related to Sjogren's Syndrome is not always clear. For general information, see Associated Condition Misdiagnosis.

Associated conditions list: The list of conditions mentioned by various sources as associated with Sjogren's Syndrome includes:


Associated conditions: Connective tissue is the framework of the body that supports organs and tissues. Examples are joints, muscles, bones, skin, blood vessel walls, and the lining of internal organs. Many connective tissue disorders are autoimmune diseases, and several are common among people with Sjögren's:

  • Polymyositis is an inflammation of the muscles that causes weakness and pain, difficulty moving, and, in some cases, problems breathing and swallowing. If the skin is inflamed too, it's called dermatomyositis. The disease is treated with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.

  • In Raynaud's phenomenon, blood vessels in the hands, arms, feet, and legs constrict (narrow) when exposed to cold. The result is pain, tingling, and numbness. When vessels constrict, fingers turn white. Shortly after that, they turn blue because of blood that remained in the tissue pools. When new blood rushes in, the fingers turn red. The problem is treated with medicines that dilate blood vessels. Raynaud's phenomenon usually occurs before dryness of the eyes or mouth.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is severe inflammation of the joints that can eventually deform the surrounding bones (fingers, hands, knees, etc.). RA can also damage muscles, blood vessels, and major organs. Treatment depends on the severity of the pain and swelling and which body parts are involved. It may include physical therapy, aspirin, rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, steroids, or immunosuppressants.

  • Scleroderma causes the body to accumulate too much collagen, a protein commonly found in the skin. The result is thick, tight skin and damage to muscles, joints, and internal organs such as the esophagus, intestines, lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. Treatment is aimed at relieving pain and includes drugs, skin softeners, and physical therapy.

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes joint and muscle pain, weakness, skin rashes, and, in more severe cases, heart, lung, kidney, and nervous system problems. As with RA, treatment for SLE depends on the symptoms and may include aspirin, rest, steroids, and anti-inflammatory and other drugs, as well as dialysis and high blood pressure medicine.

  • Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels, which then become scarred and too narrow for blood to get through to reach the organs. In people with Sjögren's, vasculitis tends to occur in those who also have Raynaud's phenomenon and lung and liver problems.

  • Autoimmune thyroid disorders are common with Sjögren's. They can appear as either the overactive thyroid of Graves' disease or the underactive thyroid of Hashimoto's. Nearly half of the people with autoimmune thyroid disorder also have Sjögren's, and many people with Sjögren's show evidence of thyroid disease.

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Connective tissue is the framework of the body that supports organs and tissues. Examples are joints, muscles, bones, skin, blood vessel walls, and the lining of internal organs. Many connective tissue disorders are autoimmune diseases, and several are common among people with Sjögren's:

  • Polymyositis is an inflammation of the muscles that causes weakness and pain, difficulty moving, and, in some cases, problems breathing and swallowing. If the skin is inflamed too, it's called dermatomyositis. The disease is treated with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants.

  • In Raynaud's phenomenon, blood vessels in the hands, arms, feet, and legs constrict (narrow) when exposed to cold. The result is pain, tingling, and numbness. When vessels constrict, fingers turn white. Shortly after that, they turn blue because of blood that remained in the tissue pools. When new blood rushes in, the fingers turn red. The problem is treated with medicines that dilate blood vessels. Raynaud's phenomenon usually occurs before dryness of the eyes or mouth.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is severe inflammation of the joints that can eventually deform the surrounding bones (fingers, hands, knees, etc.). RA can also damage muscles, blood vessels, and major organs. Treatment depends on the severity of the pain and swelling and which body parts are involved. It may include physical therapy, aspirin, rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, steroids, or immunosuppressants.

  • Scleroderma causes the body to accumulate too much collagen, a protein commonly found in the skin. The result is thick, tight skin and damage to muscles, joints, and internal organs such as the esophagus, intestines, lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. Treatment is aimed at relieving pain and includes drugs, skin softeners, and physical therapy.

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes joint and muscle pain, weakness, skin rashes, and, in more severe cases, heart, lung, kidney, and nervous system problems. As with RA, treatment for SLE depends on the symptoms and may include aspirin, rest, steroids, and anti-inflammatory and other drugs, as well as dialysis and high blood pressure medicine.

  • Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels, which then become scarred and too narrow for blood to get through to reach the organs. In people with Sjögren's, vasculitis tends to occur in those who also have Raynaud's phenomenon and lung and liver problems.

  • Autoimmune thyroid disorders are common with Sjögren's. They can appear as either the overactive thyroid of Graves' disease or the underactive thyroid of Hashimoto's. Nearly half of the people with autoimmune thyroid disorder also have Sjögren's, and many people with Sjögren's show evidence of thyroid disease.

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Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Questions and Answers About Sjögren's Syndrome: NIAMS
2. excerpt from Questions and Answers About Sj”gren's Syndrome: NIAMS

Last revision: June 16, 2003

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