Sjögren’s Syndrome in Older Patients
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Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is a systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by chronic inflammation of exocrine glands that results in development of xerostomia and keratoconjunctivitis sicca. The disease activity of SS is not restricted to exocrine glands, and many other organs and organ systems can be involved. Diagnosis of SS in the elderly population can be challenging because xerostomia, dry eyes, symptoms of fatigue, weight loss and muscle pain are also common features of old age. Delay between clinical onset and diagnosis of SS in the elderly may be due to the shared features of SS and old age. The 2002 revised American–European Consensus Group (AECG) classification criteria for SS are the preferred tool used to confirm diagnosis of SS, but recently alternative criteria have been put forward by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The AECG criteria set combines subjective symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth with objective signs of keratoconjunctivitis sicca, salivary gland dysfunction and histopathological (salivary gland biopsy) and serological (autoantibodies against SSA/Ro and SSB/La antigens) features. Treatment of SS in the elderly does not differ from that in younger patients. The aims of the treatment of SS are to control glandular and extraglandular manifestations, to prevent damage to organ systems and loss of function, and to decrease morbidity and mortality. Treatment of the elderly can be complicated by co-morbidities, an increased rate of adverse events related to therapeutic agents, and polypharmacy. Therefore, careful follow-up of the treatment is required.