As many of you know I have an incurable lung disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis which was caused by an incurable autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome. Today is World Sjogren’s Day and here are some facts about this disease.
- Sjögren’s (“SHOW-grins”) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack and damage the moisture producing glands in a person’s body.
- Sjögren’s is the 2nd most common rheumatic autoimmune disease. Affecting as many as 430,000 Canadians, Sjögren’s is three times more common than better known related diseases such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Sjögren’s strikes nearly 1 in every 70 people.
- 90% of Sjögren’s patients are women. Most patients are diagnosed in their late 40s however the disease has been recognized in nearly all racial and ethnic groups and in all age groups, including children.
- Patients most commonly experience dry mouth, dry eye, fatigue and/or joint pain. Patients may also experience symptoms such as dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes; difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing; sore or cracked tongue; dry or burning throat; dry, peeling lips; vaginal and skin dryness; increased dental decay and digestive problems.
- Along with symptoms of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas.
- Sjögren’s can occur on its own or with another autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma and 50% of all Sjögren’s patients have another autoimmune disease.
- Someone with Sjögren’s has a greater risk of developing lymphoma (44 times greater than a healthy individual).
- Sjögren’s remains relatively unknown and is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The average time from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis is 3 years.
- A diagnosis can be difficult because symptoms can vary from person to person and may mimic other medical conditions. Additionally, patients may not share all of their symptoms with a specific healthcare professional (i.e. telling a dentist about dry eyes, etc.) and symptoms are not always present at the same time so they are treated individually rather than systemically.
- There is currently no known cure for Sjögren’s
Since my stair training and my first hike up Ha Ling Peak my oxygen saturation has been down when I walk playing golf and mowing the lawn. My next Lung Function Test is in November and I’m concerned that I caused the Sjogren’s to act-up as I put my lungs under considerable stress training and hiking.