Celiac Disease and Sjögren’s
What is Sjögren’s?
Sjögren’s (pronounced SHOW-grins) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized most often by dry eyes and a dry mouth. Other symptoms may include fatigue, joint and/or muscle pain, and neuropathies. It is estimated to affect four million Americans of all ages, genders, races and ethnicities.
Sjögren’s causes white blood cells, called lymphocytes, to target, attack and damage moisture-producing glands. This can lead to problems such as difficulty swallowing, dental cavities and vision problems.
Sjögren’s can also result in damage to tissues of the lungs, kidneys and liver. Some people may experience joint pain, swollen salivary glands, skin rashes or dry skin, persistent dry cough or fatigue. Anyone can develop this condition, however, it is more common in women, people over the age of 40, and people who have other rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Although there is no cure for Sjögren’s, treatments can relieve many of the symptoms.
What is the Connection between Celiac Disease and Sjögren’s?
In a literature review from 2020, researchers found Sjögren’s in anywhere from 1.2% to 6.5% of celiac disease patients. Other studies found celiac disease in anywhere from 1% to 14.7% of patients with Sjögren’s syndrome. However, the vast majority of studies suggested the two conditions overlapped at a percent higher than 1%, suggesting there is indeed a connection between these two conditions. In other words, if you have one you are at a slightly higher risk of developing the other.
The conditions also share a few important similarities:
- Both celiac disease and Sjögren’s are autoimmune diseases
- Celiac disease has many symptoms in common with Sjögren’s, such as painful joints and indigestion, which may make diagnosis difficult
- Both celiac disease and Sjögren’s are associated with an increased risk of lymphoma
Where Can I Learn More?
Do you or a family member suffer from Sjögren’s? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.