Diagnosis

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.

Tests can help rule out other conditions and help pinpoint a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome.

Blood tests

Your doctor might order blood tests to check for:

  • Levels of different types of blood cells
  • Presence of antibodies common in Sjogren's syndrome
  • Evidence of inflammatory conditions
  • Indications of problems with your liver and kidneys

Eye tests

Your doctor can measure the dryness of your eyes with a test called a Schirmer tear test. A small piece of filter paper is placed under your lower eyelid to measure your tear production.

A doctor specializing in the treatment of eye disorders (ophthalmologist) might also examine the surface of your eyes with a magnifying device called a slit lamp. He or she may place drops in your eye that make it easier to see damage to your cornea.

Imaging

Certain imaging tests can check the function of your salivary glands.

  • Sialogram. This special X-ray can detect dye that's injected into the salivary glands in front of your ears. This procedure shows how much saliva flows into your mouth.
  • Salivary scintigraphy. This nuclear medicine test involves the injection into a vein of a radioactive isotope, which is tracked over an hour to see how quickly it arrives in all your salivary glands.

Biopsy

Your doctor might also do a lip biopsy to detect the presence of clusters of inflammatory cells, which can indicate Sjogren's syndrome. For this test, a sliver of tissue is removed from salivary glands in your lip and examined under a microscope.