More than 1 in 6 people with lupus also develop Sjögren disease, an autoimmune condition that affects your moisture glands and organs. Some medications may help treat both conditions.

Lupus and Sjögren disease are autoimmune diseases. As with other autoimmune conditions, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in certain parts of your body. It’s also possible to have more than one autoimmune disease at a time.

Systemic lupus erythematosus ( or lupus, for short) is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks multiple types of tissues in your body. This may include your:

  • joints
  • blood cells
  • skin
  • kidneys
  • heart
  • lungs

With Sjögren disease, your immune system attacks glands that produce saliva and moisture. Your immune system may also start attacking other organs.

Learn more about these two autoimmune conditions, including their possible links, symptoms they may share, and what you can expect in the long term.

Lupus and Sjögren disease are both autoimmune conditions. Sjögren disease is common but often underdiagnosed.

Sjögren disease may be primary, meaning it develops on its own. But it can also be secondary, meaning it develops with other autoimmune diseases. Secondary Sjögren disease may also be referred to as associated or co-occurring. Lupus is one of the autoimmune diseases most closely tied to Sjögren disease.

While anyone can develop Sjögren disease, it’s most common in women ages 40–50. Women are also more likely to have lupus, and it tends to develop between 15 and 45 years of age.

Can you have lupus and Sjögren disease?

It’s possible to have both lupus and Sjögren disease. While previous research indicated that Sjögren disease may develop in up to 17.8% of people with lupus, the rate may be higher due to underdiagnosis.

Since the two conditions share similar symptoms, it may be difficult to tell one over the other without diagnostic testing.

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Sjögren disease primarily involves problems with moisture-producing glands in your body, while lupus can involve multiple types of tissue. Both conditions can have a systemic impact and involve multiple organs and systems.

Below is an overview of symptoms both conditions share, as well as those that differ:

LupusSjögren disease
Dizziness or confusion
Dry mouth
Acid reflux
Mouth and nose sores
Dry throat
Dry, itchy eyes
Eye swelling
Low grade fever
Butterfly rash across nose and cheeks
Skin rashes
Dry skin
Changes in color of fingers and toes
Chronic dry cough
Painful breathing
Joint pain
Muscle pain or weakness
Leg swelling
Abdominal pain
Vaginal dryness
Swollen lymph nodes
Hair loss

Doctors may use the following tests to diagnose lupus:

If a doctor also suspects secondary Sjögren disease, they may also check for:

A rheumatologist may help diagnose both lupus and Sjögren disease. Due to eye involvement in Sjögren disease, an ophthalmologist or optometrist may also help conduct eye tests.

It’s important to treat each condition when you have both lupus and Sjögren disease. This will help alleviate the symptoms of each and prevent complications. Some medications may help treat both conditions.

A treatment plan may include a combination of the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatories may help treat joint and muscle pain in both lupus and Sjögren disease while also reducing fever.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs: These may include short-term corticosteroids, which may help stop the immune system from attacking healthy tissues in both lupus and Sjögren disease.
  • Biologics: Certain biologics, such as B-lymphocyte stimulator protein inhibitors, may help treat both conditions.
  • Hydroxychloroquine: An antimalarial medication, hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), may help treat joint pain and fatigue in both lupus and Sjögren disease.
  • Tear duct plugs: Punctal plugs may help treat chronic dry eye caused by Sjögren disease.
  • Artificial tears: Over-the-counter eye drops can also treat dry eye.
  • Artificial saliva: These prescription products can help treat dry mouth with Sjögren disease.

If not treated, lupus can cause serious health complications, including:

Sjögren disease symptoms may start as mild and increase in severity over time. If not treated or detected, Sjögren disease may eventually affect your internal organs and lead to more serious complications, such as kidney and lung diseases.

Having both lupus and Sjögren disease makes it even more important to follow up with a doctor for regular appointments and to seek treatment.

What does a Sjögren disease flare feel like?

Autoimmune diseases like Sjögren disease can cause periods of flares, or worsening symptoms, followed by periods of remission. Common symptoms of a Sjögren disease flare include fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, dry eyes, and dry mouth.

What other conditions are linked to Sjögren disease?

Conditions linked to Sjögren disease include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and primary biliary cholangitis.

What blood test can help diagnose lupus and Sjögren disease?

There’s no single blood test that can definitively diagnose lupus and Sjögren disease. Each requires multiple diagnostic tests.

Both lupus and Sjögren disease present with increased antinuclear antibodies in blood testing.

A positive rheumatoid factor test result may help confirm Sjögren disease, while a CBC may help confirm lupus.

There’s currently no cure for lupus or Sjögren disease, but each condition is treatable. This is also the case if you have both conditions at the same time.

If you have lupus and think you also have Sjögren disease, or vice versa, consider talking with a doctor about the next steps.