Definition of Sicca syndrome

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Sicca syndrome: An autoimmune disease, also known as Sjogren syndrome, that classically combines dry eyes, dry mouth, and another disease of connective tissue such as rheumatoid arthritis (most common), lupus, scleroderma or polymyositis.

There is a great preponderance of females. About 90% of Sjogren syndrome patients are female, usually in middle age or older.

Sjogren syndrome is an inflammatory disease of glands and other tissues of the body. Inflammation of the glands that produce tears (the lacrimal glands) leads to decreased tears and dry eyes. Inflammation of the glands that produce the saliva in the mouth (salivary glands, including the parotid glands) leads to dry mouth. The syndrome can consequently be complicated by infections of the eyes, breathing passages, and mouth.

Sjogren syndrome is typically associated with antibodies, antibodies produced by the body that are directed against a variety of body tissues (autoantibodies). The diagnosis of the syndrome can also be aided by a biopsy of an affected gland.

The treatment of Sjogren syndrome is directed toward the particular areas of the body that are involved by the disease and the complications such as infection.

The term "sicca" refers to the dryness of the eyes and mouth. The syndrome is named after the Swedish ophthalmologist Henrik Samuel Conrad Sjogren (1899-1986) who, after seeing a woman of middle age with the disease, collected 19 such cases and in his doctoral thesis in 1933 delineated the syndrome. Sjogren's thesis was not considered of sufficient importance to earn him the title of "docent", denying him a career in academic medicine. The syndrome he discovered nonetheless came to be accepted around the world.


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