Are you suffering from the symptoms of fibromyalgia? You know the chronic pain, fatigue, and mental fog? All tell-tale signs that you’ve got fibromyalgia. But have you ever considered that maybe it’s not fibro? There are actually a number of other conditions that cause very similar symptoms. For instance, have you ever heard of sicca syndrome?
Sicca, also known as Sjogren’s syndrome, is one of these conditions, and it can often be difficult to tell apart from fibromyalgia. So what is the syndrome, what are the symptoms, and how can you distinguish it from fibromyalgia?
What Is Sicca Syndrome?
The syndrome is named after Swedish doctor Samuel Sjogren, who first identified the condition after examining a number of patients who had it. The term sicca syndrome refers to the way it attacks the moisture producing areas of the body and drying them out or desiccating them.
The syndrome is an autoimmune condition that can damage a number of organs in the body. On a basic level, an autoimmune condition is one where your body’s immune system essentially turns against you. In a healthy immune system, white blood cells attack foreign cells such as bacteria or viruses. This trains the blood cells to quickly identify these cells and destroy them as soon as they appear. It’s an important part of your overall health and the only reason that we can survive in a world filled with dangerous bacteria.
In someone with an autoimmune condition, these white blood cells get confused and become conditioned to treat your body’s own cells as though they were hostile invaders. As a result, they attack the body and start progressively destroying tissue and often these conditions can eventually cause significant damage to vital organs.
Sicca syndrome causes your body’s immune system to attack your entire body and though the most commonly affected areas are the moisture producing tissue like the eyes and mucous glands, it can affect everything from your muscles to your lungs. And this can produce some unusual symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms?
Sicca syndrome can create symptoms that are quite similar to other autoimmune condition. People with sicca can experience a persistent cough or possibly painful skin rashes.
But more importantly, sicca syndrome often results in symptoms that are very similar to fibromyaliga. See, it can result in chronic fatigue, mental fog, and chronic pain. And that of course sounds very similar to the symptoms of fibromyalgia. And another similarity is that both conditions can be hard to diagnose, so you can spend years with aching muscles and fatigue before you even know what you have.
Put all that together and it’s quite possible that you could get the two conditions confused. You could be doing research one day to figure out why you’re always tired and have muscle pains and decide that fibromyalgia is the most likely cause only to find out a year later that you actually have sicca syndrome.
So, how do you tell the two apart?
Sicca Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia
Obviously, there are some significant similarities between sicca syndrome and fibromyalgia. But there is also one significant difference between the two conditions that makes it possible to distinguish between them. That’s the fact that it attacks the moisture producing glands of the body.
One of the most common areas that this occurs is the eyes (in the tear ducts), which leads sufferers to get dry eyes. And because the tear ducts help protect your eyes, this can get very uncomfortable. It can feel like you’ve got something irritating, like sand, in your eyes which you just can’t seem to get rid of. You can also find yourself drying out in other areas, like the mouth.
And if you’re a woman -and the majority of sicca sufferers are- you may experience an uncomfortable dryness of the vagina.
But, this dryness also let’s you know that what you are dealing with is not fibromyalgia. While fibromyalgia can produce a lot of different –and often strange– symptoms, this kind of frequent dryness isn’t one of them. So if you’re finding that you frequently experience fatigue and muscle pain, be aware that there other possible explanations than fibromyalgia.
And sicca might account for the symptoms you are experiencing. It’s worth keeping in mind as you try to make sense of your situation. Discuss your concerns about symptoms with your primary care physician or rheumatologist.
The preceding information is from FibromyalgiaTreating.com and is posted here for sharing purposes only. Please visit their site for additional information.
Image from Wikimedia Commons