Saturday, January 19, 2013

Moisture, I need moisture!

Do you remember the feeling you get. When gritty, sandy, dirt blows in your eyes?
That is what my eyes feel like pretty much all of the time.
My eyes are blurry, it looks like it is foggy half the time and when I add drops to my eyes they sting.

The symptoms I'm describing are being caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome. It is an autoimmune disease in which your white blood cells attack the glands that produce moisture. The most well known symptoms are dry eyes and a dry mouth. Sjogren’s may also cause problems with your other organs such as your heart, kidneys etc. Some people might have extreme fatigue and joint pain. Those symptoms mimic a lot of other illnesses and makes it harder to diagnose.
I have what is known as “Secondary” Sjogren’s since it is not what is considered my “Primary” disease. RA is My "Primary" disease. Although not much about Sjogren's feels secondary. :)

Other people have “Primary” Sjogren’s meaning it is without another disease process.

I  was diagnosed by an optometrist several years ago, after my family doctor suspected I might have it.

The winter months seem to be worse for me, especially this year since it was a very dry summer.
Everywhere I go, I carry a bottle of water with me. If I’m without water for longer than even a half hour. I feel like I’m totally dehydrated and have to run for the nearest water right away!

My hands crack from the dryness. I have used every hand cream and lotion I can find. My dermatologist gave me one, it's really greasy and doesn't stay on well. If anyone out there has a good recommendation please let me know! We also have a humidifier running at all times in our home.

I have been on Salagen and Evoxac but neither made a difference for me.  I’ve also used, eye drops, prescription (Restatis) and multiple non prescription drops. One optometrist tried punctal plugs. (plugs to keep tears over your eye longer)  by plugging the tear ducts. They didn’t work for me, but they may for you. He actually couldn't find them in my eyes the next time I saw him. The one eye drop, giving me a minimum amount of relief right now is Systane Balance. My new Optometrist recommended I try it. 

For my mouth, I use Biotene products, they have a good toothpaste, mouthwash and other products for dry mouth. Another thing that helps is sugar free lemon candy, I think most sugar free candy is good because it produces saliva.

I have had major dental work done due to Sjogren’s.  It’s hard to find a dentist who even knows what Sjogren's is. I still need more done. It’s very important that if you’re diagnosed, you see a dentist and an optometrist as soon as you can. Take your time to find one who is understanding, one who has heard of what you have and does not blame you for it. 

For my nasal passages I use saline nasal spray at least once a day sometimes more.

Like most autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for Sjogren's but we can do things to make it easier for ourselves. Some things have not worked for me, I hope some of the things I mentioned will work for you.

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