You may have noticed changes in your body when you were about 40 but thought it was just part of growing older. Your mouth was always dry no matter how much water you drank. Your eyes felt like sandpaper despite the constant use of eyedrops. When you mentioned these symptoms to your doctor and dentist, they may have run some blood tests, suggested mouthwash or prescribed more powerful eye lubricant.
When more symptoms appeared and began interfering with your daily life, you persisted with your doctor. From that point, you may have visited dozens of specialists and undergone scores of tests to receive the diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome. Knowing your condition has a name may have been a comfort, but little else about the syndrome that is comforting, especially if it prevents you from earning a living.
Sjogren's is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body. About half the time, patients have Sjogren's as a secondary condition with other inflammatory diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. Otherwise, Sjogren's is the primary condition. If you have this common condition, you are among 4 million others in the country, mostly women. Symptoms include the following:
- Dryness in the mouth and throat that affects your ability to talk, chew and swallow
- Changes in your mouth as a result of the dryness, such as cracked tongue, dental decay and yeast infections
- Enlarged facial glands and lymph nodes
- Painful joints due to inflammation
- Inflamed blood vessels that result in skin rashes
- Numbness, tingling and weakness in your hands and feet
- Extreme fatigue
As Sjogren's progresses, the constant inflammation can cause permanent damage to your organs, including your kidneys, liver and lungs. No known cure exists, and you will likely spend a great deal of time traveling around New Jersey or elsewhere to specialists who will try to help you manage your symptoms.
While many with Sjogren's are able to live with their lives as normally as possible, others find the symptoms become too severe to allow them to continue with their daily routine. If you are in this situation, you may be wondering whether your Sjogren's Syndrome qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits. Fortunately, Sjogren's is on the list of ailments approved by the Social Security Administration as a disabling condition. With the assistance of a skilled attorney, you may have success in obtaining assistance through disability benefits.