Overview of Sjogren’s Syndrome
Sjogren's syndrome and dry mouth
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If you recall, last time I wrote about how Sjogren's syndrome affects my eyes. Today I will be talking about how it affects the mouth and nose.
OLD BIG MOUTH:
I'm sure my husband would say something cute about my mouth being dry because it is open all the time. He's probably correct but don't tell him I said so. Basically, With Sjogren's one just doesn't have enough saliva to swallow well. This can cause a continual “sore throat” sensation. There are saliva sparing products out there, gels, gums, and tooth pastes, but I have not found one that works that well probably because you are swallowing all the time. Also, some of them tasted pretty bad. I just drink sugarless bottled seltzer water all day. The fluids are good for me, the sips keep the mouth lubricated, and the seltzer is good for my irritable bowel syndrome. I try to avoid any drinks with ingredients I can't pronounce, caffeine or sugar. Some people suck on sugarless candy to encourage saliva but if you take that route, be careful with those candies that are sweetened with sorbitol because it can cause diarrhea. Some people like lemon drops because they give you a boost of vitamin C, even though they do contain sugar.
When you have a dry mouth and throat, there can be a certain danger involved when you are taking pills. I always take a drink of fluid first, then swallow pills, just one or two at a time. I try to choose vitamins and supplements that are in capsule form. They get a bit “sticky” and take a bit more water but they seem to slide down easier than large, cumbersome pills which are dry as well. It helps to search labels to see how large the vitamin is when you have to worry about choking on it. It's also best to chew your food thoroughly and concentrate when swallowing. I find I have to be careful and not even turn my head while I am swallowing. Choking can be serious business and I don't want any, thank you very much. My ENT doctor recommends Mucinex for dry mouth but the amounts you have to take are quite large and frankly, they made me nauseous.
Another factor to consider is the possibility of periodontal disease. Dry mouth is a welcome environment for bacteria and increased cavity production. There is also a higher incidence of candida or oral yeast infections with Sjogren's. Good oral hygiene is a must, either brushing or with a Waterpik device. There are some toothpastes on the market for dry mouth but I usually use one low in sugar, with whitening. The experts recommend those without lauryl sulfate as well as toothpastes that have little or no sugar. These are Biotene, DentalCare and Retardent. I prefer the more natural approach with the tea tree oil toothpastes. The taste takes time to adjust to because tea tree is a natural anti-bacterial from New Zealand and tastes a bit like camphor. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can only make the mouth more dry. I have also noticed over the years an increased intolerance to highly acidic food, chilies, and frozen food such as ice cream. They all hurt the mouth, so I just make my salsa milder than most and leave that Dove bar out until it warms up a bit.
Yes, now we come to the nose. Dry nose can burn and when you least expect it, you can have a bloody nose. I have found this usually happens when you are out in public just so you can be embarrassed, at least that's been my experience. With the nose, avoidance of wind and avoidance of excessively warm rooms both help. Good old Vaseline can really help if your dry nose is like mine and exceptionally sensitive to cigarette smoke. I'm not against smoking per se. Actually, I feel kind of badly for smokers here in Oregon because they are forced to smoke in the alley behind their workplace when you know such a high percentage of the people inside have snorted crystal meth, but that's just me. At least smoking is legal even if it is going to ruin your health, I just can't tolerate the burning it causes in my nose. When I know I'm going to be around smokers, I take a small tube of petroleum jelly in my pocket and keep putting it up my nose. If nasal dryness is a great problem there are some inexpensive saline sprays on the market or you can make your own with one tablespoon of salt dissolved in one quart of purified water.
There are medications for Sjogren's Syndrome but I have never taken them, such as Pilocarpine because I have tachycardia. The last little irritating aspect of all of this is those cold sores, herpes simplex or fever blisters. I have them frequently when in the sun and take L-lysine for them. It's not that expensive, available at the market or health food store. I take several grams of it when having a painful cold sore. It works very well and doesn't harm you. There are also some good products available as lip creams for the sores. There is Abreva which is pretty expensive, approximately for a minute little tube. I found one I like at a health food store. It's called Super Lysine, is less expensive and works very well.
I know this is a lot of information. I tried to concentrate it and hope it will be helpful to all of you who are also “drying up.”
Video: Dry Mouth - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & More…
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