Have you been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome and now find yourself having a heartburn sensation in your chest?
Sjogren’s syndrome can occur to men and women of any age, and women are more commonly affected by this autoimmune disease — perhaps comprising almost 90 percent of patients.
At the beginning, the immune system in SS attacks the salivary glands and tear ducts.
The patient will find themselves with an uncomfortable dry mouth that can’t be remedied with fluid intake, plus dry eyes which may have a mild itch or scratchy feel
Other symptoms of SS include a persistent cough, dry skin, joint pain or stiffness and extended fatigue.
Sjogren’s can also affect the lungs, nerves, liver and kidneys.
As a result, a wide range of symptoms can occur. This includes heartburn.
“Many patients with Sjogren’s have heartburn, which is often due to decreased saliva which neutralizes the acidity of stomach acid,” says Stella Bard, MD, a board certified rheumatologist with 20+ years of experience.
“Taking NSAIDs for swollen glands worsens the heartburn.”
Adequate amounts of saliva are needed to neutralize stomach acid. You may wonder how this is possible since it seems that saliva exists only in the mouth and throat.
However, saliva gets swallowed all the time – every single time you swallow.
This means it gets into your esophagus, where acid from the stomach may reflux into as a result of usually food triggers or a weak esophageal sphincter.
Saliva in the esophagus is important because it helps neutralize acid that doesn’t belong in the esophagus.
You’ll want to consult with your physician about how to manage heartburn that’s being caused by Sjogren’s syndrome.
Chronic acid reflux can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.
This is when the cells in the lining of the esophagus undergo a change and become precancerous.
Barrett’s esophagus, hence, is a risk factor for esophageal cancer.
Dr. Bard is an ABMS board certified rheumatologist with 20+ years’ experience. Rheumatologists often deal with whole-body problems due to the diseases they treat; patients find solutions to problems they didn’t originally come in for such as body aches and poor sleep. Dr. Bard uses cutting edge and natural remedies to achieve remarkable results with her patients.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.