People with autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus may also complain of dry eyes and mouth. This combination of symptoms is known as Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) syndrome, which is also an immune system disorder. The glands in the mouth and eyes have a decreased production of tears and saliva which can cause significant distress.
Treatments focus on relieving symptoms as many of the disease modifying treatments used for other autoimmune diseases provide limited benefit. New guidelines for treating Sjogren’s have recently been announced by the American College of Rheumatology. Normal “tears” have three layers; each are produced by a different part of the eye. There is a water layer, oil layer and mucous layer. Eye drops that have a double or triple layer formula offer more comfort than less expensive drops which only mimic the watery layer. Eye ointments or gels can be used at bedtime. Prescription eye drops containing cyclosporine are the most effective.
Dry mouth products include specially formulated gums, lozenges, mouth washes, toothpaste, sprays and mouth patches. Our pharmacists are happy to offer suggestions. Additional information is available at The Sjogrens Society of Cananda.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.