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Sjögren’s Syndrome Information for the Physician Assistant Exam

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition covered on the Physician Assistant Exam (PANCE). It’s characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth or just dry mouth. Antibodies actually form against the salivary and lacrimal glands.

Sjögren’s syndrome can also affect other organs, including the kidneys — it can cause a form of renal tubular acidosis and low potassium levels. Note that Sjögren’s syndrome frequently occurs with other autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Sjögren’s syndrome can be diagnosed labwise by testing for anti-SSA and anti-SSB antibodies. The condition is confirmed by a biopsy, usually on the lip or parotid gland.

You can use Schirmer’s test to test for dry eyes. A special type of filter paper is placed in each of the bottom eyelids. After several minutes, the paper is removed and the moisture content of the paper is measured.

Treating Sjögren’s syndrome includes the use of artificial tears and an eye patch. Many people carry around water bottles to keep their mouths moist. Hydrating gum is available as well. Depending on the extent and severity of the disease, stronger immunosuppressive medication may be needed.

Sjögren’s syndrome is not an innocuous disease; it increases the risk of developing malignancies and other lymphoproliferative diseases, such as lymphoma.

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