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Sjogren's Syndrome; Prevention.

Sadly, there's no known way to prevent the onset of Sjogren's syndrome. However, the symptoms are often treatable, and you can develop strategies for keeping some symptoms at bay.

Ironically, the best "prevention" is early diagnosis and prevention of complications. Early diagnosis and intervention can impede the course of Sjogren's syndrome. All too often, the condition goes undiagnosed and symptoms continue to worsen. Since Sjogren's syndrome can affect many parts of the body, regular checkups can help detect and prevent future problems. You and your health care professional should meet frequently to discuss your treatment strategy to keep the condition from worsening.

A healthy diet is part of taking care of yourself under any circumstances, and it's doubly important if you have Sjogren's. You should probably avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they may be dehydrating. Spicy and acidic food can irritate your mouth, and sugary food can promote tooth decay.

Of course, get plenty of rest and avoid tobacco and (when possible) stress. Mild exercise, such as walking or swimming, can help keep joints and muscles flexible. Exercise may also protect against further joint damage. Warm compresses or heating pads can help ease joint or gland pain.

Keeping your mouth moist is important. Artificial moisture can help. Methylcellulose swabs or spray might help alleviate mouth dryness. Sipping fluids throughout the day may help, too, as well as sugar-free gum or candies, which stimulate saliva production. Use artificial tears or eye drops to relieve the discomfort of dry eyes. Medications such as Salagen and Evoxac may improve saliva production, and Restasis eye drops may improve tear production.

Practicing good oral hygiene is essential. Frequent dental checkups, fluoride and mouth rinses, regular brushing with antibacterial toothpastes and flossing are more important for Sjogren's patients, since you are at a higher risk for tooth decay.

Here are other coping strategies that can help moderate your symptoms.

Don't smoke; avoid tobacco smoke and other air irritants.

Use self-adhesive stamps and envelopes.

Don't direct hair dryers toward your eyes.

Wear glasses on windy days and goggles when swimming.

Coat your lips with petroleum-based lubricants to prevent drying. (Many lipsticks can provide this protection).

Keep your home humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent. You may want to use a humidifier year-round. Some experts advise using a cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier; be sure to clean it daily.

Avoid rubbing your eyes.

If you have nasal and airway dryness, consider using a soft cervical collar while you sleep to help prevent your mouth from opening, thus preventing the dryness that mouth breathing causes.

Avoid abrasive detergents, soaps, and in some cases, dryer sheets.

Consider soft contact lenses rather than the traditional hard ones. Many patients with Sjogren's are unable to wear contact lenses.

Avoid prolonged hot showers or baths.

Talk to your health care professional about discontinuing your use of decongestants and antihistamines because they dry your mouth and nasal areas.

Use sunscreen.

Apply lotions or other lubricants to still-damp skin right after you finish your bath or shower.

Frequent small sips of water--or sucking on ice chips--can help keep your lips and gastrointestinal tract hydrated.

Avoid drafts from air conditioners, heaters and radiators, when possible.

If you have vaginal dryness, use lubricants made specifically for that purpose.

Finally, experts stress the importance of mental and emotional health. Joining a self-help or support group can help you cope emotionally, as well as teach you new strategies for managing your disease.

References

"Diagnosis." The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. http://www.sjogrens.org/syndrome/diagnosis.html. Accessed November 2007.

"Treatment of Sjogren's Syndrome." Uptodate. Last updated August 2007. http://www.utdol.com. Accessed November 2007.

Sjogren's Syndrome Treatment. MayoClinic.com. August 2007. http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed December 2007.

"Sjogren's Syndrome." Sjogren's World. Copyright 2005. http://www.sjogrensworld.org. Accessed June 7, 2005.

"Sjogren's Syndrome." Arthritis Foundation. Copyright 2004. http://www.arthritis.org. Accessed June 7, 2005.

"Sjogren's Syndrome Information Page." The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Updated February 9, 2005. http://www.ninds.nih.gov. Accessed June 7, 2005.

"About Sjogren's Syndrome: What is Sjogren's Syndrome?"; "FAQs About Sjogren's Syndrome": "Diagnosis": "Treatment": "Additional Resources." Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, Inc. http://www.sjogrens.org/syndrome. Accessed June 7, 2005.

Carsons, Harris, ed. The New Sjogren's Syndrome Handbook. London: Oxford University Press. 1998.

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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Sjogren's Syndrome
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 16, 2008
Words:723
Previous Article:Sjogren's Syndrome; Treatment.
Next Article:Sjogren's Syndrome; Facts to Know.
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