Sjogren's syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms vary from person to person and can be similar to those caused by other diseases. Side effects of a number of medications also mimic some signs and symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome.
A variety of tests can help rule out other conditions and help pinpoint a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome.
Your doctor may order blood tests to check for:
- Levels of different types of blood cells
- Presence of antibodies common in Sjogren's syndrome
- Blood glucose levels
- Evidence of inflammatory conditions
- Indications of problems with your liver and kidneys
- Shirmer test. Your doctor can measure the dryness of your eyes with a test called a Schirmer tear test. In this test, a small piece of filter paper is placed under your lower eyelid to measure your tear production.
- Slit-lamp test. A physician specializing in the treatment of eye disorders (ophthalmologist) may also examine the surface of your eyes with a magnifying device called a slit lamp. He or she may place drops in your eye make any damage to your cornea easier to see.
- Sialogram. To check on the condition of your salivary glands, your doctor may order a special X-ray called a sialogram. It detects dye that's injected into your parotid glands, located behind your jaw and in front of your ears. This procedure shows how much saliva flows into your mouth.
- Salivary scintigraphy. This nuclear medicine test involves the injection of a radioactive isotope, which is tracked to measure your salivary gland function.
- Chest X-ray. Because Sjogren's syndrome can also cause lung inflammation, your doctor may also order a chest X-ray.
Your doctor may also want to do a lip biopsy to detect the presence of clusters of inflammatory cells, which can indicate Sjogren's syndrome. For this test, a small sliver of tissue is removed from salivary glands located in your lip and examined under a microscope.
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- Spit test. In this test, you spit into a test tube every minute for 15 minutes. The total amount of saliva collected is then measured to determine the severity of your dry mouth.
- Urine sample. Your doctor may want you to provide a urine sample that can be analyzed in the laboratory to determine whether Sjogren's syndrome has affected your kidneys.
- Questions and answers about Sjogren's syndrome. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sjogrens_Syndrome/default.asp. Accessed July 6, 2011.
- Kruszka P, et al. Diagnosis and management of Sjogren syndrome. American Family Physician. 2009;79:465.
- Naguwa S, et al. Sjogren's syndrome. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/137554062-3/841563606/1492/1035.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2805-5..50294-9_13050. Accessed July 6, 2011.
- Sjogren's syndrome. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/sjogrens.asp. Accessed July 6, 2011.
- Fox R, et al. Treatment of Sjogren's syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 6, 2011.