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Venus Williams Sjogren’s Syndrome

March 15, 2012 by staff 

Venus Williams Sjogren’s Syndrome, Suzy Allman for The New York TimesVenus Williams was forced to drop out of the U.S. Open because of Sjogren’s syndrome. Before this week, many people had probably never heard of Sjogren’s syndrome, one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders. But the recent announcement by tennis star Venus Williams that she was suffering from fatigue and other symptoms related to Sjogren’s has brought needed attention to a troubling condition.

The disease often starts out as an uncomfortable feeling in the eyes and mouth, writes medical reporter Gina Kolata.

Patients say their eyes are dry and red, even though they are using eye drops. Often too, they say, their mouths are dry. Food is becoming tasteless. Some get swollen glands in their necks, making it look like they have mumps.

It turns out those are the hallmark clinical signs of Sjogren’s syndrome, a mysterious disease caused by an overproduction of B lymphocytes, the cells of the immune system that make antibodies. The deluge of B cells clogs glands. Some people have trouble perspiring because their sweat glands are obstructed. Or they have trouble digesting food. Women may have pain during intercourse because their vgnas become dry….

When Venus Williams said the disease made her feel tired, she was right. Patients with Sjogren’s, like those with the related diseases rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are unusually tired, and there is no way to alleviate this sensation. Investigators have studied lupus patients, asking how much oxygen they consume when they exercise, and found that they use much more than healthy people, although no one knows why that is so.

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