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Sjögren's syndrome is a chronic systemic (whole-body) autoimmune disease that predominantly affects the moisture-producing glands. The most common symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth. However, the disease may involve a broad spectrum of organ systems, including the nervous system, lungs, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.
Sjögren's syndrome may occur alone (primary Sjögren's syndrome) or along with another autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis or primary biliary cirrhosis (secondary Sjögren's syndrome).
In order to slow the progression and minimize the clinical impact of Sjögren's syndrome, our rheumatologists work closely with specialists throughout Mass General, including ophthalmologists, oral surgeons, neurologists and nephrologists. We also work with the patient's local dentist and doctor(s) to enhance clinical care.
Mass General's Sjögren's Syndrome Program is headquartered in the Yawkey Building on the hospital's main campus. Many of our services are also available at Mass General Waltham and our community health centers in Charlestown and Chelsea.
At your first appointment, one of our rheumatologists will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Persistent dry eyes and dry mouth could suggest you have Sjögren's syndrome. However, you will need to undergo testing (e.g. measurement of tear production, blood tests to identify certain autoantibodies) at Mass General before we can make a definitive diagnosis.
Sjögren's syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are associated with many other conditions and can impact many organ systems. Our rheumatologists' experience helps them distinguish Sjögren's syndrome from other disorders and devise an effective, personalized treatment plan.
Although there is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome, early intervention and expert management may help prevent debilitating complications. Your treatment plan will include medications designed to address the various symptoms that you might experience throughout your body.
Your rheumatologist will educate you about caring for your eyes, mouth and other areas affected by Sjögren's syndrome. We will also schedule annual appointments at Mass General to monitor symptoms and disease progression and adjust your medications accordingly.
Sjögren's syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects women, damages moisture-producing glands in the eyes, mouth, vagina and trachea. The most common symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth.
There currently is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome. However, treatments to manage symptoms can be highly effective in conjunction with educating patients on optimizing quality of life.
In 1965 Kurt Bloch, MD, published a seminal study that stands as the earliest review of patients with Sjögren's syndrome—and the first look at the systematic impact of the disease. Director of the Mass General Allergy and Clinical Immunology units from 1976–2002, he is currently professor emeritus in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology.
Program director Donald Bloch, MD, shares his father's interest in Sjögren's syndrome. Since finishing his Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation fellowship in 1991, he has seen Sjögren's patients and conducted research into the role of autoantibodies in autoimmune disease.
Ongoing basic research in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology aims to identify the events that initiate autoimmune disease. We are hopeful the findings will lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment—and even prevention—of Sjögren's syndrome.
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