General Eye Care Tips
- Eat healthy foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables and fish three times per week.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Do not smoke and avoid those who do.
- Wear eye glasses as much as possible to protect your eyes from wind and pollution.
- Blink. This action helps to spread the tears and the drops that you have instilled over the surface of the eye.
- Put your drops in regularly not just when your eyes feel at their worst. After instilling the drops close you eyes and press gently on the lids close to your nose to keep the drops on your eyes longer.
- Use lid hygiene and hot soaks daily.
- Use eye makeup sparingly and never put eye liner inside the lash line.
- Humidify your home and office.
Dry Mouth Care
Dryness of the mouth due to Sjögren’s can be quite painful and can impact a person’s quality of life negatively. Although dry mouth can be difficult to manage and expensive to treat, the good news is that there are ways to help manage and prevent some of the oral symptoms resulting in reduced pain.
Possible Prevention Tips and Management of Sjögren’s Oral Symptoms
- Limit sugar consumption and sodas
- Keep mouth hydrated, sip water or sugar-free non-carbonated drinks
- Extra care and particular attention to good oral hygiene habits
- Frequent dental checkups for dental cleanings, tooth maintenance and fluoride application
- Stimulate natural saliva by chewing sugar-free gum, sucking sugar-free candy
- Apply fluoride in custom trays several times a week between visits (ask your dentist)
- Use high fluoride containing toothpastes
- Consider medication to stimulate saliva flow
- Treat yeast infections
- Treat acid reflux
- Education about Sjögren’s
Particular attention to oral hygiene is needed when you have Sjögren’s. Good oral hygiene habits include brushing, flossing and rubber tipping your teeth and more frequent than usual (e.g. once every 3 months) dental checkups for dental cleanings, tooth maintenance and for fluoride application. In between, it may be helpful to apply fluoride to your teeth at home several times a week in custom trays (ask your dentist!!), change your toothpaste to one containing a high level of fluoride (e.g. prevident) and to try and keep your mouth hydrated.
The use of Chlorhexidene mouthrinse ( 0.12%) 2 or 3 times a day can make a huge difference in reducing the number of strep mutans and lactobacillus colonies in the mouth and therefore reducing the susceptibility to dental decay. The only problem is that the teeth need more frequent cleanings because of the stain, but it is very worth it.
Because chlorhexidene mouthrinse contains alcohol, it is important that prior to starting this mouthrinse, any yeast infection, if present, has been treated to reduce any burning from using this rinse.
Dry Nose Care
Nasal dryness is often seen in patients with Sjögren’s. This may lead to nasal crusting and/or nosebleeds. Nearly one half of patients with Sjögren’s have thinning of the skin/lining of the inside of the nose. Septal perforation may also occur which may exacerbate problems with crusting and bleeding. Patients may also notice a diminished sense of smell and/or taste. An increased incidence of chronic sinusitis may occur secondary to dried secretions blocking sinus outflow tracts. Treatment is aimed at re-establishing clearance of secretions using nasal saline irrigations. Nasal moisturizing agents such as sesame oil and other commercially available products may also be useful to treat and prevent crusting and nosebleeds.
Some patients have had success by moisturizing with petroleum based products e.g. Vaseline, Polysporin/Polytopic ointments. However, these should be used in limited quantities.