The following symptom evaluation and quiz is just to give you an idea of how to evaluate yourself so you can decide whether to ask your physician if you are a candidate for Sjogren’s Syndrome or some other autoimmune disease.
Not all the listed symptoms are Sjogren’s; some are for MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and a couple other autoimmune diseases.
The point of the evaluation is to show you how Sjogren’s mimics other diseases. Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis are among the top four mimics and the diseases that doctors mostly zero in on.
Because Sjogren’s attacks any or all systems of the body (called systemic disease), sometimes doctors can miss diagnosing someone with Sjogren’s Syndrome. It can look like any number of other diseases. If you know what most of the symptoms are and if you have any of them, you can put your doctor that much closer to giving you an appropriate diagnosis and start treatment sooner.
Note: You do not have to have every symptom on the lists that follow to be considered for Sjogren’s Syndrome. Where you see the target scores at the end of each section, these are the minimum number of symptoms that most physicians will use to rule in/out Sjogren’s Syndrome. All I did was put the wording in everyday context to help you identify the symptoms more easily.
Example: sometimes just saying “dry eye” won’t make you think of “a gritty feeling or like you have a speck of dust/dirt in your eye.” Sometimes saying “reflux” won’t make you consider “heartburn.”
Read each category, write down which symptoms pertain to you, answer the quiz at the end, read your results.
1. Dry Eyes
If you eyes are dry, itchy and/or sometimes sting, you would probably go to see an opthamalogist or to your primary doctor. Sometimes it feels like a piece of dirt/dust/sand is in your eye.
But it might not be an eye problem at all. Or it could be a symptom of another disease.
Get a piece of paper, keep it handy, this is going to become your symptom list.
Write down all that apply.
- dry eyes
- using eye drops (Visine, Murine)
- itchy eyes
- stinging eyes
- decreased vision, vision changes (upping the numbers on reading glasses in short periods of time)
- feels like something is in eye
2. Throat and Salivary Systems
Target: 5 or more
- Your throat isn’t exactly sore, but sometimes it burns.
- Swallowing is difficult and sometimes can make you choke.
- You need more fluids to be able to chew and/or swallow food because it doesn’t feel wet enough.
- Sometimes food just smells bad when it really isn’t bad at all.
- Sometimes foods smell excessively sweet or more potent, like new vanilla air freshener or warm brownies right from the oven.
- Your voice comes and goes – more goes than comes.
- You are hoarse and sometimes you squeak in mid-sentence or your voice will drop a register (level).
- You never know when your voice is going to give out in the middle of a conversation.
- Sucking on Hall’s or other throat lozenges or drinking more fluids doesn’t totally fix it, but it helps so that you might ignore bringing it to a doctor’s attention on next visit.
- You might start getting cavities when you haven’t had one in a long time.
- Your lips need moisturizing balm because they crack, even when it is not cold weather
- You are getting mouth sores (canker or cold sores)
- Your nose is dry, you notice less blowing or post nasal drip than previously.
- Your tongue is dry
- You have a history of bile duct blockages in liver.
- You have abnormal bilirubin blood test results (always get copies of labs to keep for your records)
Write down all that apply and all you can identify with. I’ve underlined some words so you don’t have to write everything down on your list.