Lifestyle Modifications for Sjogren’s Syndrome
If you have Sjogren’s syndrome, your NYU Langone rheumatologist may recommend lifestyle changes, which can alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. He or she may refer you to an ophthalmologist or a dentist, who can help you to manage your symptoms as well.
Keep Your Eyes Moist
If you wear contact lenses, ask your ophthalmologist if you should switch to a lens that retains eye moisture and prevents dryness. Regardless of the type of contacts you wear, avoid keeping them in your eyes for too long, and don’t wear them overnight. You can talk to your ophthalmologist about when to take them out to avoid eye injury.
Also, try alternating between contact lenses and glasses to prevent dryness. Whenever possible, try avoiding medications, including certain antidepressants and antihistamines, that can result in dry eyes, and limit exposure to environments that worsen symptoms, such as windy or polluted areas.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can lead to discomfort and tooth decay. Keep your mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day, and consider carrying a water bottle with you at all times. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies can help boost your saliva production.
Avoid sugar and sugary beverages, because they can promote tooth decay, as well as coffee, alcohol, and nicotine, which can irritate the mouth. Use lip balm or ointments to soothe dry or cracked lips. A humidifier can relieve dryness in the winter or at night.
Avoid highly air-conditioned or heated environments, as well as medications that can worsen dryness, such as some decongestants.
Practice Good Dental Care
To prevent tooth decay, which is common in people with Sjogren’s syndrome, brush your teeth after every meal and floss daily. Try toothpastes or mouthwashes formulated for dry mouth.
Your doctor can tell you how often you need to get your teeth cleaned, and whether you might benefit from a fluoride toothpaste or rinse to prevent cavities. If you’ve noticed cracks at the corners of your mouth or a white coating on your tongue, your doctor may recommend an antifungal medication.