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Special attention for Sjogren's syndrome in April

Bethesda, Md.—More than 4 million Americans suffer from Sjogren's syndrome, according to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, and the syndrome is in the spotlight in April, which is national Sjogren's Awareness Month.

With Sjogren's syndrome, a person's white blood cells attack his or her moisture-producing glands. The disease is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, says the SSF. The most common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome include dry mouth and eyes, fatigue and musculoskeletal pain. The disease is more prevalent in women, who account for nine out of 10 patients with the disease, SSF says.

During Sjogren's Awareness Month, SSF encourages health care professionals, especially dentists, eye doctors and gynecologists, to keep the chronic disease top of mind as sufferers often are misdiagnosed on average for 4.7 years before a determination of Sjogren's syndrome is finally made, says SSF.

New York-based Carroll Petrie Foundation has donated $100,000 to SSF to help the organization increase awareness.

SSF is a nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md.

It was founded in 1983 to provide patients with practical information and coping strategies that minimize the effects of Sjogren's. SSF also acts as a clearinghouse for medical information and a national advocate in the battle against the disease.

The Carroll Petrie Foundation is a private foundation based in New York City.

For more information about Sjogren's syndrome, visit sjogrens.org. The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also have resources on Sjogren's syndrome.

Based at the University of California, San Francisco, the Sjogren's International Collaborative Clinical Alliance is another source of information. SICCA is a collaboration of clinical and laboratory investigators from institutions worldwide who study individuals with Sjogren's syndrome and compile the International Sjogren's Syndrome Registry.