What is Sicca Syndrome? How it affects Fibromyalgia

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Are you suffering from the symptoms of fibromyalgia? You know the chronic pain, fatigue, and mental fog? All revealing signs that you’ve got fibromyalgia, but have you ever thought that maybe it’s not fibro? There are actually a number of other conditions that cause very similar symptoms. For instance, have you ever heard of sicca syndrome?

Sicca, also recognized as Sjogren’s syndrome, is one of these conditions, and it can often be hard to tell apart from fibromyalgia. So what is the syndrome, what are the symptoms, and how can you distinguish it from fibromyalgia?

What is sicca syndrome?

Sjogren’s disease or Sjogren’s syndrome is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. The immune system usually guards the body from microorganisms and foreign invasions by germs. In autoimmune diseases the immune system fails to recognize self from non-self and attacks the body’s own cells.

Sjogren’s syndrome mainly affects glands like the salivary glands in the mouth. In this disease white blood cells called lymphocytes penetrate the epithelium linings of the glands and thus reduce their usual secretions. Patients commonly present with dry mouth, enlargement of the salivary glands and dry eyes.

The disease also affects lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and muscles. Sjogren’s syndrome is also associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Symptoms of sicca syndrome

Sicca syndrome can create symptoms that are quite similar to other autoimmune condition. People with sicca can experience a persistent cough or possibly painful skin rashes. But more importantly, sicca syndrome often results in symptoms that are very similar to fibromyaliga.


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See, it can result in chronic fatigue, mental fog, and chronic pain. And that of course sounds very similar to the symptoms of fibromyalgia. And another similarity is that both conditions can be hard to diagnose, so you can spend years with aching muscles and fatigue before you even know what you have. Put all that together and it’s quite possible that you could get the two conditions confused.

You could be doing research one day to figure out why you’re always tired and have muscle pains and decide that fibromyalgia is the most likely cause only to find out a year later that you actually have sicca syndrome.

Sicca syndrome Vs Fibromyalgia

Obviously, there are some significant similarities between sicca syndrome and fibromyalgia. But there is also one significant difference between the two conditions that makes it possible to distinguish between them. That’s the truth that it attacks the moisture producing glands of the body.

One of the most common areas that this occurs is the eyes (in the tear duct) which lead sufferers to get dry eyes. And because the tear ducts help protect your eyes, this can get very uncomfortable. It can feel like you’ve got something irritating, like sand, in your eyes which you just can’t seem to get rid of.

You can also find yourself drying out in other areas, like the mouth. Fatigue, as well as dryness of the mucous membranes within the mouth as seen in primary Sjogren’s syndrome is commonly seen in patients with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia may present alone or in combination with other diseases like primary Sjogren’s syndrome.

Pain is another symptom that both disorders can cause. If it is from Sjogren’s the pain will typically be in the joints, whereas if it is due to fibromyalgia it can be anywhere, and will especially involve the trunk, muscles, etc. Additionally, Sjogren’s can lead to chronic fatigue, which leaves you feeling tired continuously.

And with that fatigue comes mental symptoms like confusion and trouble remembering basic details like people’s names or where you left your car keys. So, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, and mental fog. Sounds a lot like fibromyalgia, right? That’s why the two conditions get confused so often.

Luckily, there are a few symptoms that make it possible to tell the difference. There’s the obvious fact that Sjogren’s dries out your eyes and mouth, unlike fibromyalgia. And besides dry eyes and mouth, it frequently leads to puffy salivary glands in the mouth which are often tender. It also causes pain in the esophagus, which leads to difficulty swallowing. Finally, Sjogren’s can often lead to coughing fits and even pneumonia.


Fortunately, the condition is effortlessly treated with a small number of different medications. First, the easiest treatment method is to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). These are things like common over-the-counter painkillers which work to reduce the inflammation that comes with Sjogren’s.

In addition, if these NSAIDs aren’t enough, you can also turn to corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are hormones produced by the body that reduces inflammation. And they can be injected to treat symptoms as well. Finally, doctors often prescribe immunosuppressant drugs to treat Sjogren’s.

The activity of the immune system is slowed down by Immunosuppressant drugs, which is clearly a good option for treating a condition caused by an overactive immune system. But either way, the good news is that thanks to these effective treatments, Sjogren’s is very manageable.

The vast majority of people with the condition live normal, full lifespans. But it’s still important to get treatment as soon as possible, which is why being able to recognize the symptoms is vital.

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  • Sicca Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia by Wyatt Redd via Fibromyalgia Treating
  • Fibromyalgia and Sjögren’s Syndrome By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD via News Medical


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