Two very similar autoimmune diseases, Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Autoimmune disorders react very similarly when it comes to its symptoms. That is especially the case with Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome. The main difference between the two illnesses, is the fact that the body attacks the healthy tissues and cells in Lupus, and in Sjogren’s Syndrome, the body attacks moisture producing glands. That allows more opportunity for the body to attack, when dealing with Lupus. Sjogren’s Syndrome main concern is Lymphoma.
Like with most autoimmune diseases, people’s bodies react differently. Some patients have a mild case, others have a more severe one. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are difficult to predict what course they will take. Those patients who have kidney problems will have a much tougher time of it.
Since the symptoms of Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome resemble one another, many patients end up being misdiagnosed. Patients very often are first diagnosed with Lupus, only to find out that Sjogren’s Syndrome is the real culprit. Many times this is the case when the autoantibodies are not positive at the time of testing. There are no specific tests that conclusively confirm Lupus or Sjogren’s. The doctor usually has to give the patient a full examination, followed by several blood tests.
The ANA is the test that physicians will rule out or confirm an autoimmune disease. Although, in my case, the ANA has never been positive. My case was confirmed by the sedimentation rate and the Anti(Ro)SSA antibody.
When testing for Lupus, the anti-Smith and anti Double Stranded DNA, are both, highly specific for it. If one tests positive for that, and has the symptoms that are Lupus related, one will be diagnosed with the disease. If you note, you’ll see the similarities with symptoms of Lupus and Sjogren’s.
Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
Butterfly-shaped rash(malar rash)on the face that covers the bridge of the nose
Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods(Raynaud’s phenomenon)
Shortness of Breath
Swollen salivary glands-particularly the set located behind your jaw and in front of ears.
Skin, rashes or dry skin
Persistent dry cough
Joint Pain, swelling and stiffness
In conclusion, a person that has any of these symptoms, needs to see a doctor who specializes in Rheumatology. Sometimes a more specific specialty is required. There are those physicians who specialize in Lupus or Sjogren’s Syndrome.