Sjögren Syndrome

Sjögren Syndrome Lab Tests and health information

The Sjögren Syndrome test looks for the presence of antibodies common in Sjögren's syndrome. The results of an ANA (antinuclear antibody) test will help determine if you have an autoimmune disorder. 

Are you wondering what kind of Sjögren syndrome test is available? Learn more about the types of Sjögren syndrome testing available and order directly from Ulta Lab Tests to know about your health today!

Below the list of tests is a guide that explains and answers your questions on what you need to know about Sjögren syndrome tests, along with information on Sjögren syndrome, signs, symptoms, and diagnosis.

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Sjögren's syndrome is the third most common autoimmune disease. It lies behind rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus in prevalence in the United States.

If you're diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome, you may suffer from dry eye, dry mouth, and joint pain. This could lead to sight complications, gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, and more. On top of this, getting the diagnosis for a single autoimmune diagnosis puts you at a higher risk of developing other autoimmune diseases in the future.

So, you need to get a Sjögren's syndrome test if you're showing symptoms. The sooner you start receiving treatment, the better controlled your symptoms will be.

To learn more about Sjögren's syndrome, Sjögren's syndrome treatment, and Sjögren's syndrome tests for diagnosis, keep reading. We have everything you need to know.

What Is Sjögren's Syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome is one of the many autoimmune diseases that scientists have recently discovered. This specific autoimmune disease targets the mucous membranes throughout the body. Since these moisture-producing glands are more prevalent around our eyes and mouth, the syndrome usually leads to chronic dry eye and dry mouth.

However, we should note that the syndrome is systemic. This means that it can cause complications all over your body. So, you may notice symptoms that affect muscles, joints, and even entire organ systems.

Since Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease, its presence can put patients at risk for the development of other autoimmune diseases. Mainly, patients with Sjögren's syndrome go onto develop rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Because of the discrepancy in autoimmune conditions, there are two kinds of Sjögren's syndrome: primary and secondary.

Primary Sjögren's syndrome refers to patients who have gland inflammation without an underlying rheumatologic condition. This means that the patient doesn't have any other conditions (including autoimmune diseases) that could cause muscle and/or joint pain.

Secondary Sjögren's syndrome refers to patients who have Sjögren's syndrome as well as another rheumatologic condition. There are three conditions that are common in secondary Sjögren's patients:

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  2. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  3. Scleroderma

It's important to identify the kind of Sjögren's you have as well as the underlying condition you may have. This affects your treatment plan as well as your outcome.

What Are the Risk Factors for Sjögren's Syndrome?

The most important risk factor is your gender. Nine out of ten patients with Sjögren's syndrome are female. 

Next is age. Usually, patients who receive a Sjögren's diagnosis are in their forties or older. However, some researchers think that this is because it takes this long for symptoms to show in the patients.

Many rheumatologists use an early-show Sjögren's test in younger patients who are exhibiting mild symptoms. This can help physicians catch the condition much faster than they could before.

Lastly, we should emphasize (again) how the presence of one autoimmune disease can lead to the development of another. If a patient has an already-existing rheumatologic condition, they are more likely to develop Sjögren's syndrome.

This is why you may notice rheumatologists performing yearly panels on their patients. They are trying to make sure that they don't miss the development of one autoimmune disease while they're focusing on treating other conditions.

What Causes Sjögren's Syndrome?

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system, which usually attacks foreign bacteria and viruses in your body, attacks your own body's cells and tissues instead.

As this happens, inflammation and pain develop. There is also damage done to the areas that your immune system is attacking. So, patients will live with residual symptoms their entire lives.

Physicians are not exactly sure what causes the syndrome, but they do suspect that there are genetic and environmental components to the development of the syndrome. Some researchers believe that some cases of Sjögren's may be tied to prior infections that set the immune system off course.

The discovery of autoimmune diseases is still relatively new. So, there are many studies that are still underway to find out more about the development of these diseases.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sjögren's Syndrome?

As we mentioned before, there are two hallmark symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome: dry eyes and dry mouth. This is because the condition causes the immune system to attack the moisture-producing glands that lubricate the eyes and mouth.

Patients with dry eyes complain of an itchy, burning sensation in their eyes. Some patients use the word "gritty" to describe the sensation that they feel when they try to blink.

Patients with dry mouth complain of trouble speaking and swallowing. The dryness that develops in the mouths of Sjögren's patients comes from a lack of saliva. And, without that saliva, it can become difficult to use our mouth in ways that we're used to doing every day.

However, these aren't the only signs of the condition. Like most autoimmune diseases, Sjögren's is systemic. So, patients can experience symptoms all over the body.

Here are some of the most common symptoms that Sjögren's patients complain of:

  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Dental decay
  • Chronic dry cough
  • Dry skin
  • Skin rashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Swelling in the joints

These symptoms can progress over time. And, in patients who have gone undiagnosed and/or untreated, the symptoms can progress even further.

Late-stage Sjögren's patients can develop burning and numbness in the extremities. And, the condition can lead to low red and white blood cell counts.

It's very important to diagnose and treat Sjögren's as soon as possible. The longer that the syndrome goes on without intervention, the worse the outcomes are for the patients.

What Are the Lab Tests to Diagnose Sjögren's Syndrome?

Unfortunately, there isn't a single test that can diagnose Sjögren's syndrome. Rheumatologists have to order a multitude of labs and tests. These are specific to Sjögren's and general to overall immune system health.

This is because there isn't a single antibody that is tied to Sjögren's syndrome. Rather, there are multiple antibodies and multiple inflammatory factors that are linked to the disease. These are things that your physician will try to find when they're searching for a diagnosis.

Here are some of the most common Sjögren's syndrome tests that rheumatologists use to diagnose the condition:

  • ANA screen - a general test that can signal the presence of autoimmune diseases.
  • Rheumatoid factor - tests for proteins that your immune system makes as it's attacking healthy tissue
  • Ds DNA antibody - normally specific for lupus but can be found in Sjögren's patients.
  • C-reactive protein - a general test for inflammation in the body.
  • Sedimentation rate - a general test that can sense high levels of inflammation in the body.
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel - a general test that can look at electrolyte levels in the body.
  • Complete blood count - a general test that can look for cells in the blood.
  • Protein electrophoresis - tests for the levels of immunoglobulins in the blood.
  • Ocular surface staining - the physician applies a stain to your eye, and this stain will conglomerate in places where there is erosion and/or damage to the eye from dryness.
  • Lip biopsy - the physician removes a sample of tissue from your salivary gland and looks at it under a microscope to determine whether or not there are signs of inflammation.
  • Sialometry - measures how much saliva that the glands produce during a set amount of time.

Our comprehensive Sjögren's syndrome panel tests for the following:

  • ANA Pattern
  • ANA Screen, IFA
  • Anti-Nuclear Ab Titer
  • Mitochondrial Ab Screen
  • Mitochondrial Ab Titer
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Sjögren's Antibody (Ss-A)
  • Sjögren's Antibody (Ss-B)
  • Thyroid Peroxidase

Physicians may also test for SS-A and SS-B antibodiesThe SS-B antibody is only present if the SS-A antibody is present. However, the presence of both the SS-A and SS-B antibodies can strengthen the diagnosis.

Some physicians may also perform a urinalysis to check for kidney damage.

Are There Any Diagnostic Tests for Sjögren's Syndrome?

Aside from laboratory tests, there are a few diagnostic tests that your physician may choose to run if they suspect that you have Sjögren's syndrome. Here are some of the most common diagnostic tests for Sjögren's syndrome:

  • Ultrasound - looks at the major salivary glands to check for abnormalities.
  • Neurological testing - a wide variety of neurological tests (biopsies of nerves, nerve conduction testing, MRIs, lumbar punctures, etc.) can determine whether or not Sjögren's could be causing nerve issues.

As your rheumatologist gathers more and more information about your condition, he/she will be able to figure out how serious it has gotten. If these tests come back negative, your rheumatologist may start testing for other conditions that cause the same or similar symptoms.

As with any symptoms and conditions, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible for testing. If Sjögren's goes untreated for too long, it could cause permanent damage.

Getting Your Sjögren's Syndrome Test

If you believe that you could have Sjögren's syndrome, you need to get tested for Sjögren's syndrome. The results from tests offered by Ulta Lab Tests can help you determine - once and for all - whether these symptoms are from Sjögren's syndrome or if you should be considering other conditions.

If you get your tests for Sjögren's syndrome with Ulta Lab Tests, you're going to receive secure, confidential results. And you'll get those results within 24 to 48 hours. Plus, you don't need insurance or a doctor's referral.

It's simple. Just order your Sjögren's syndrome test, have your specimen collected by your local chosen patient service center, and receive your results in your online patient portal in 1 to 2 business days.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll have your answers.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started today and take charge of your health with Ulta Lab Tests.