Symptoms

The main symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome are dry eyes and a dry mouth, but it can also cause several other problems.

Each person is affected differently. For some people the condition may just be a bit of a nuisance, while for others it can have a big impact on their everyday life.

There are many conditions that can cause similar symptoms. See your GP if you have any symptoms you're worried about.

Dry eyes

Signs that you may have dry eyes include:

  • burning, stinging or itchy eyes
  • a feeling of grit or sand in your eyes
  • sore, red and swollen eyelids
  • discomfort when looking at lights
  • sticky eyelids when you wake up
  • blurred vision

These symptoms may be worse when the air is dry – for example, when you're somewhere that's windy, smoky or air conditioned.

Dry eyes can be caused by many conditions besides Sjögren's syndrome. Read more about the causes of dry eyes.

Dry mouth

Signs that you may have a dry mouth include:

  • feeling like food gets stuck in your mouth or throat – especially dry food like crackers
  • needing to drink water while eating to help you swallow food
  • your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth
  • a hoarse voice
  • a smooth, red tongue
  • a change in how food tastes
  • dry, sore and cracked skin at the corners of your lips
  • problems such as tooth decay, gum diseasemouth ulcers, and oral thrush – a fungal infection that can cause a raw, red or white tongue

Other reasons for a dry mouth include things like diabetes or medicines. Read more about the causes of a dry mouth.

Other symptoms

Sjögren's syndrome can also cause a range of other problems.

These can include:

  • dry, itchy skin
  • severe tiredness and exhaustion
  • vaginal dryness in women, which can make sex painful
  • rashes (especially after being out in the sun)
  • a dry cough that doesn't go away
  • swelling between the jaw and ears (swollen salivary glands)
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering and reasoning

Some people have other conditions closely linked to Sjögren's syndrome too, such as Raynaud's phenomenon, a condition that affects the blood supply to the fingers and toes.

Read more about the complications of Sjögren's syndrome.

Page last reviewed: 04/05/2017
Next review due: 04/05/2020