Sjögren disease causes dryness throughout your body, including in your digestive tract. Without moisture, digestion slows, and symptoms such as constipation can develop.
Sjögren disease (also called Sjögren’s syndrome) is a condition that affects your immune system. It makes it difficult for the glands that produce moisture in your body to function. This creates dryness in your:
It can also cause dryness in your digestive tract, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation.
This article takes a closer look at how Sjögren disease causes constipation and what you can do to relieve symptoms.
Sjögren disease leads to dryness throughout the body. Without moisture, it’s difficult for the food you eat to move through your digestive system.
You need moisture for normal, healthy, and soft bowel movements to form and pass out of your body. Since Sjögren disease reduces the moisture in your digestive tract, it can lead to constipation.
However, that’s not the only way Sjögren disease can affect the bowels. For instance, some of the medications often used as part of a Sjögren disease treatment plan, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can lead to constipation.
Additionally, it’s common for people with Sjögren disease to have co-occurring thyroid gland conditions that can cause digestive difficulties such as constipation.
Sjögren disease-related dryness can sometimes make it harder for the muscles in your digestive tract to contract, leading to slower digestion and constipation.
Other digestive issues
Beyond constipation, Sjögren disease can cause a range of digestive complications. These can include:
Some people with Sjögren disease experience these symptoms regularly. Other people might experience them only occasionally or might notice that they come and go.
There’s no specific diet recommended to help people with Sjögren disease improve bowel-related symptoms, but there are steps you can take to help relieve these symptoms.
Before making any diet and lifestyle changes, it’s best to talk with your doctor. They can help determine which steps are the best and safest for you.
Steps to improve bowel-related symptoms of Sjögren disease include:
- Eating more fiber: Fiber can help your body retain water, allowing food to move more easily through your digestive system.
- Sipping on water throughout the day: It’s important for people with Sjögren disease to stay hydrated. Sipping on water throughout the day can help you stay hydrated while also helping your digestive system function.
- Avoiding dehydrating beverages: Beverages such as alcohol, coffee, and some types of tea, can sometimes be dehydrating. It’s best to limit or avoid these beverages.
- Maintaining a moderate weight: Managing your weight can help improve your overall health and your digestive health.
- Staying active: Physical activity helps your digestive system. Even small amounts of exercise can make a difference.
Your doctor might also suggest other steps in addition to lifestyle changes. For instance, if your bowel-related symptoms of Sjögren disease are being caused by, or worsened by, any of your medications, your doctor might change that medication.
If your bowel-related symptoms are severe, your doctor might recommend or prescribe medications to help relieve your symptoms.
People with Sjögren disease experience dryness throughout their bodies. This can lead to symptoms such as coughing, dry eyes, and nosebleeds. In addition to dryness, symptoms of Sjögren disease can include:
There are several complications linked to Sjögren disease, including:
- permanent vision damage
- an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- problems with kidney function
- reduced thyroid function
- pregnancy complications, including a temporary lupus rash and, rarely, heart defects in newborns
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- peripheral neuropathy
- irritable bowel syndrome
Treatment can help prevent some of these complications. For instance, eye drops can keep your eyes moisturized and prevent vision damage. Receiving antibodies during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of complications for newborns.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about your possible risk of complications and how treatments can help prevent them.
Sjögren disease is a condition that causes dryness throughout the body.
Dryness in the digestive tract can make it difficult for food to pass through your system. This can slow digestion, prevent the formation of healthy stools, and lead to constipation and other digestive concerns.
Lifestyle changes, including eating more fiber, staying hydrated, and being physically activity, can help relieve this symptom of Sjögren disease.