Getting dry mouth at night is no big deal. It happens to everyone now and then, and a good specialty breath freshener can wet your tongue and eliminate morning breath in seconds. But if you find yourself with a parched palate and itchy eyes all the time, without respite, you may need to learn more about Sjogren’s syndrome.
That’s what Dr. Paul Donohue wrote in his latest health and fitness column for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
He explained that Sjogren’s (pronounced SHO-grins) is an inherited autoimmune disorder, one that is almost always found among women. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nine out of 10 people with Sjogren’s are female, usually over the age of 40. (Though not always: Tennis star Venus Williams, who has the syndrome, is only 32.)
With Sjogren’s, the immune system attacks moistening glands, like the tear ducts and salivary glands. Many people with the syndrome also have problems with arthritis, Donohue wrote.
He added that, for dry mouth at night and during the day, there are a few simple solutions.
"For the dry mouth, a squeeze bottle filled with water ought to be a constant companion that’s used frequently," Donohue suggested. He added that specialty breath fresheners and mouth-moistening products are a must for people with this syndrome.
While it is incurable, people with Sjogren’s can get by quite well with drugs that minimize their arthritic symptoms and specialty breath fresheners that wet the tongue and neutralize odor. Most people with the condition also use eye drops and oxygenating, sugar-free gum.
Donohue concluded by recommending that people with the disorder contact the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, which maintains up-to-date information on the condition and can get people in touch with local and virtual support groups.