Approximately 4 million Americans are living with Sjogren’s – sometimes called Sjogren’s Disease or Sjogren’s Syndrome. I am one of those 4 million and often keep this information close to the vest. My friends and family know I have this but for the most part, I deal with it and don’t talk about it much. Having an autoimmune diagnosis falls under the “chronic illness” category – a category family members, friends, and employers don’t like to hear. I decided to stop hiding the diagnosis and turn my focus to those who are also dealing with Sjogren’s or other autoimmune illnesses. It has helped me tremendously to learn that I am not the only one dealing with this crazy disease.
A systemic autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s impacts the entire body. A healthy immune system fights off foreign invaders and keeps body systems functional, regulated, and healthy. When the immune system goes awry, immune cells begin to “fight off” something in the body that is necessary for optimal function. With Sjogren’s immune cells destroy the glands that produce moisture in the body, most often causing extensive dryness in the mouth and the eyes. Symptoms vary for each patient.
My symptoms vary and when I have a flare, things tend to go south quickly. Daily, I deal with dry eyes and fatigue. My diet has completely changed and eating a super clean diet has improved my symptoms significantly. I do not take any medication specifically for autoimmune diseases. My choice, to this point, has been to keep things under control with a healthy lifestyle that is built around diet, exercise, and sleep.
I am going to start blogging more about living with and dealing with Sjogren’s, with the hopes that it will help someone else who is living with Sjogren’s or other autoimmune issues. I have learned so many important lessons and one of the most impactful is there is hope and help available. You are not alone.
A couple of helpful links for general Sjogren’s information: