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QUESTION: Per this week's NIH meetings on the subject of Sjögren's syndrome, can you comment on the relation of Sjögren's to blood type (beyond its general auto-immune implications for O's) and the ER diet? My type-O father died of it, and his five middle-aged type-O daughters are nervously watchful about things like contact lenses, periodontic disease or numbness in toes. Thanks for your great answers on this board.
ANSWER: Sjögren's syndrome is a chronic disorder of unknown cause characterized by a particular form of dry mouth and dry eyes. This loss of tears and saliva may result in characteristic changes in the eyes (called aqueous tear deficiency or keratoconjunctivitis sicca) and in the mouth with deterioration of the teeth, increased oral infection, difficulty in swallowing, and painful mouth. There are many different causes for dry eyes and dry mouth. When they occur as a result of an "autoimmune" process, the condition is called Sjögren's syndrome, which usually occurs in middle-aged women and has prevalence in about 1 in 500 persons. Patients may also have inflammation of the joints (arthritis), muscles (myositis), nerves (neuropathy), thyroid (thyroiditis), kidneys (nephritis), or other areas of the body. Also, patients may have severe fatigue and disruption of their sleep pattern. Also, the blood of Sjögren's patients may contain antibodies directed against normal cellular substances such as nuclear antigens and immunoglobulins. Therefore, this disease is termed an "autoimmune" disorder to denote the apparent reaction of the immune system against the patient's own tissues