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Sjogren's Should Be Treated Early

If your eyes or mouth become extremely dry and you have aches and pains in muscles and joints, schedule a visit to your doctor.  Dr. Janine Smith of the National Eye Institute, says these symptoms may signal the onset of Sjogren's Syndrome, an incurable - but treatable -  immune disorder.

Dr. Smith: "It affects two to four million Americans, and nine out of 10 patients affected are women.  The average age of onset is usually in the peri-menopausal period around the 50's, although there are several women who are in the 25- to 35-year-old period that can be affected, often after childbirth."

Dr. Smith says early treatment is important because it can prevent further complications:

Dr. Smith: "These patients have an increased risk for infection in the front part of the eye, and that can lead to scarring and a decrease in vision."

Moisture replacement can ease the symptoms of dryness, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to treat joint and muscle symptoms.  Severe complications may be treated with corticosteroids or immune-suppressing drugs. 

Dr. Smith: "I think it is important for patients to know that there is a lot of ongoing research, and hopefully new medications will be available to them to help with the symptoms of this difficult disease."

For more information, click here.

Created: 10/15/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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