Sjögren’s Syndrome Diagnosis
Early diagnosis is important to lessen the effect of Sjögrens on the eyes, mouth and other organs. The doctor will ask questions about the person's medical history and discuss symptoms. During the physical examination, the doctor will check for:
- Changes in the eyes, mouth and salivary glands
- Joint inflammation
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck
The doctor may recommend an eye examination to be done by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist).
Several tests help the doctor make a diagnosis. They include:
- Blood tests. Some people have specific proteins in their blood called autoantibodies, which react to the body’s own tissues. Certain blood tests can detect these. The anti-SSA (also called anti-Ro) or anti-SSB (also called anti-La) blood tests are the most specific ones for Sjögren’s syndrome. Other autoantibody tests include antinuclear antibody (ANA) and rheumatoid factor (RF). Blood tests may also be done to look for signs of inflammation, such as increased levels of immunoglobulin or C-reactive proteins (CRP). These are both proteins that signal immune reactions. An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or sed rate) test may also be done to check for general signs of increased inflammation.
- Dry eye tests. The Schirmer test is used to determine how well the eyes produce tears. A slit-lamp test checks the surface of the eye (cornea) for dryness-related damage.
- Saliva tests. The doctor will measure saliva output, how well salivary glands function and whether there is inflammation.
- Chest X-ray. Because Sjögren’s can affect the lungs, the doctor may order this test to check for inflammation.