Episode 01: Welcome to Success with Sjogren's!

Season #1

I am so excited to welcome you to the first official episode of the Success with Sjogren’s podcast!  Over the coming weeks and months, my guests and I will share how modern medicine and lifestyle work better together.


So what exactly does an allergy & immunology physician do?

In its simplest definition, I see children and adults with misbehaving immune systems. I primarily see patients who are struggling with seasonal allergies, chronic sinus problems, asthma, food allergies, allergic skin rashes and conditions that cause hives and swelling. Although less common,  I also care for patients with mast cell and eosinophilic disorders and immune deficiencies.


When we think about the immune system misbehaving, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and immune deficiencies all signal that the immune system is dysregulated or out of balance. In the case of allergies and autoimmunity, the immune system is recognizing something as the enemy that should be tolerated or ignored. Unfortunately, both of these types of conditions can occur more often when there is an immune deficiency too.


In short. The immune system gets very complicated very quickly!


So what exactly is Sjogren’s syndrome?

Sjogren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune condition where the body recognizes the exocrine glands. These are the glands that produce moisture in our body. They include the glands that produce tears, saliva, sweat, breast milk, skin oils, mucus, and more.  White blood cells called lymphocytes relocate to these glands and the inflammation produced results in tissue destruction. The end result is are classic symptoms of dryness but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fatigue, joint and body pain, and digestive problems affect the majority of those with Sjogren’s too.


Traditionally, Sjogren's has been classified as primary or secondary meaning that it can be an autoimmune disease diagnosed on its own or the symptoms can be related to another connective tissue disease like lupus.

How and why this happens is still not fully understood but we will take a deep dive into the science in a future episode. In short, there is a combination of both underlying susceptibility and environmental triggers that are implicated.


Sjogren's is estimated to affect 4 million Americans with the vast majority of those affected being women. The average age of diagnosis is around 40 but diagnosis can be difficult to get and takes several years on average.


So why am I here? Oh goodness, there have been so many reasons over the last few years…

Where do I start?


When I was first diagnosed, I was so overwhelmed. I was exhausted and in pain- both the physical pain but also the emotional pain associated with my diagnosis. I also was incredibly overwhelmed.


After the initial shock and I dried my tears, I found myself frustrated that Sjogren’s lacked the effective disease-modifying treatments that similar conditions like rheumatoid arthritis had. Subsequently, I found myself searching high and low for any and all other options that might be out there. Diet. Vitamins. Supplements. Exercise. Mindfulness. You name it.


Sadly, what I found was a lot of speculation, slick sales pitches and very little science.


With my medical background, it made sense to me to approach my health from the perspective of AND rather than OR.

How could modern medicine AND adjusting my habits possibly improve my health?

Some small studies in asthma and thyroid disease had demonstrated some improvement in inflammation with diet changes. I knew stress was a huge factor in immune system health from research performed at my own institution.


But I struggled to find resources that had a basis in the science I was able to find or came from the perspective of AND rather than OR. I also struggled to find resources specific to Sjogren’s.


So here I am, several years out from my diagnosis, continuing on my own healing journey. I will always be a work in progress. But I am committed to my oath to do no harm which means taking a look at the possible risks and benefits of particular testing or treatments. I am also committed to building the Sjogren’s Sisterhood community- an uplifting space where each of us can say goodbye to the fog and fatigue & rediscover our vibrant, confident selves.


The reality is the vast majority of us with Sjogren’s will not have our lives shortened by this disease but we know the symptoms we are faced with can really take their toll on our quality of life. I look forward to sharing what tips, tools, and techniques I have used to forge my own success with Sjogren's so that you too may be able to find your own version!!

Stay tuned for new episodes each week!! We will be talking about nutrition, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain, and getting tips from other expert health care professionals who happen to be autoimmune patients too!

To make sure you don’t miss an episode, hit the subscribe button, and while you are at it share with another Sjogren’s Sister!!