Hawaii Health Alerts: Living With Sjögren’s Syndrome

This autoimmune disease is one of the most prevalent.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

As many as four million Americans are living with Sjögren’s syndrome, nine out of 10 of which are women. I am one of those women. Sjögren’s is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases and it affects your entire body. It can occur alone or in the presence of another autoimmune connective tissue disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma.

Living with Sjögren’s over the past seven years has been a challenge. I’ve had to make many adjustments but I’ve learned to live a healthy and happy life. Sjögren’s syndrome can be disruptive, adding emotional and financial strain to your daily life. Some common symptoms include dry eyes and mouth, fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies and lymphomas. It can also cause dysfunction in organs like your kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels and central nervous system. These symptoms sometimes mimic or overlap with other diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Stress is a major factor that causes my body to flare. Learning how to decrease my stress has been a major focus over the last few years. Switching jobs, cancelling appointments, limiting my activities and really monitoring my body closely has been a priority for me. Searching for education and resources as well as receiving support has been beneficial in my healing and getting healthy, living with this disease.

I started raising awareness and providing education and support in 2011. I created The Sjögren’s and Lupus Foundation of Hawaii in 2015 to increase opportunities to make a difference for those living with autoimmune diseases in Hawaii. I wanted to share what I’ve learned to help others living with Sjögren’s, lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Last year, we had our first conference where we raised awareness and shared lots of information.

Educating, supporting and providing resources to help others live healthy and happy each day has been a dream come true for me. Sharing hope, opportunity, knowledge and support is the foundation’s goal and this year’s conference will provide lots of options for everyone who joins us.

Remember to start each day with a grateful heart! And keep in mind that everyone's body is different and unique. Always discuss any areas of concern about your autoimmune disease with your doctor.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii.

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