Venus Williams, a phenomenal tennis player left the U.S. Open, unable to compete after her diagnosis with Sjogren’s syndrome. What is that, she seemed in such perfect health.
There is truly a blessing in being healthy, and we often take it for granted. Venus Williams is a phenomenal player, athletically sound and masterfully skilled. However anyone can succumb to a medical disorder and it sends a message that we all need to keep abreast of our own health needs. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder, which means your body’s immune system makes a mistake and begins to attack itself. This disease is more common in women over 40, although Venus was only 31. They don’t understand where the disease comes from. Certain people are at risk and it seems to be triggered by an infection. There is no cure only treatment of symptoms.
Initially the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are damaged. There is a decreased production of salvia and patients complain of a “dry mouth” that feels like it is full of cotton. It’s difficult to speak or swallow and patients are more prone to dental cavities. Their eyes can burn, itch or feel like there is sand in them. With time, more organ systems are involved like the thyroid gland, liver, lungs, kidneys and nervous system.
Additional Symptoms Can Include:
- Joint pain, swelling and stiffness
- Swollen salivary glands, especially behind your jaw and in front of your ears
- Skin rashes or dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Persistent dry cough
- Prolonged fatigue
These patients can also develop other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Any concerns should always be discussed with your doctor.