Fibromyalgia and Sicca Syndrome: Similar Symptoms, Different Diagnoses

Do you know about the similarity in symptoms between fibromyalgia (FM) and Sicca syndrome?

Sicca syndrome attacks the moisture-producing parts of our body, causing them to dry out. The areas most greatly affected are the eyes, mouth, and vagina. If it is determined to be autoimmune, it is referred to as Sjögren’s syndrome. Sicca syndrome has other characteristics that are similar to fibromyalgia. Sometimes, you can have both diagnoses.

Sicca, like fibro, can cause fatigue, sleep issues, and muscle and joint pain. Researchers found that almost 68 percent of patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome have extreme fatigue as a major symptom.

Because symptoms can overlap, it might be worth looking at which symptoms might belong to each syndrome. With fibromyalgia, you may feel that your eyes are dry when in actuality, the nerves throughout the body are more sensitive so they just seem as though they are dry. With Sicca, artificial tears and other medications help to alleviate the dryness.

Pain from Sjögren’s is felt in the joints, whereas in FM, it is felt pretty much anywhere in the body, including in the muscles. Although people with either syndrome experience fatigue, only fibro includes issues such as sensitivities to smells, bright lights and noises, and sleep issues.

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The diminished flow of saliva predisposes those with Sjögren’s to gum disease as well as oral yeast infections. Our saliva contains important substances that normally fight these infections. Although I hadn’t thought much about it before doing this column, I’ve been dealing with both severe mouth and eye dryness (which has gotten worse over time) for many years. I can’t go anywhere without a bottle of water. Of course, that also means I’m up in the night at least once to get rid of the excess fluid I’ve taken in during the day.

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About 50 percent of people with Sjögren’s have symptoms suggestive of fibro. If you think you may have this, you should discuss it with your doctor. Some treatments for one may negatively affect the other. Sicca syndrome is just one disease or syndrome that has been shown to be a comorbidity of FM. Reminder: Sicca syndrome is not an autoimmune disease, whereas Sjögren’s is.

Do you experience dry eyes and mouth? What do you do to alleviate it?

References:

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Author: Dr James Robber

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