Sjogren’s syndrome is a common problem in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and can also occur in people without RA. In this condition patients complain of dryness in the eyes and in the mouth and other areas. These symtoms can be very severe. The condition is caused by autoimunne mediated inflammation and fibrosis of the salivary glands and tear producing glands. Treatment of Sjogren’s is initially symptomatic using artificial tears, sometimes immunomodulatory eye drops such as Restasis, and plugs to increase the quantity of tears, as well as careful dental hygiene and increased fluid intake. There are some medications that increase the flow of saliva and tears but these medications may cause frequent bowel movements and sweating in some people. The response of Sjogren’s symptoms in RA to DMARDS is variable. While in some patients, the symptoms improve with RA treatment, others do not. It is not easily possible to predict which patients will or will not respond. There are some clinical studies underway with immunomodulatory medications specifically for Sjogren’s syndrome as well.
About Clifton Bingham, III, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director - Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center