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Key facts

  • Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD is a rare condition. It means that the lungs might become scarred, making it harder for oxygen to enter the blood, which results in shortness of breath 
  • When looking for the correct diagnosis, your healthcare team may perform several tests to get a good understanding of your lung health 
  • Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD can be progressive, but there is no way of knowing if, or how fast, this could happen 

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the salivary and tear glands. It can also affect the lungs. 

Did you know

Sjögren’s syndrome is an “autoimmune” disease
“Auto” means self and “immune” means protection against. Together, this means that the immune system acts against the person’s own body.

About 1 in 70 Canadians (up to an estimated 430,000) develop Sjögren’s syndrome, and of these, about 9–20% of patients also have lung involvement, most typically in the form of interstitial lung disease (ILD). 

There are many different conditions associated with pulmonary fibrosis. Some are referred to as ILDs. ILDs with pulmonary fibrosis are a challenging group of diseases that affect the interstitium of the lung (the space between the air sacs in the lung) and lead to the formation of scar tissue.

In someone with Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD, the lungs become scarred, thickened and stiff. This makes it harder for oxygen to enter the blood and results in shortness of breath.

Quick Tip

Visit the conditions page to learn more about what an ILD is and how it is associated with pulmonary fibrosis.

Symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD

Symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD may include:

Icon showing shortness of breathing.

Shortness of breath, especially during or after physical activity

Icon showing coughing.

Chronic dry cough

Fatigue and weakness

Feeling tired when going about your normal day

Icon of lungs.

Chronic pneumonia

Sjögren’s syndrome with ILD can be progressive, which means that it might get worse over time. However, currently there is no way of predicting if, or how fast, this will happen. Some people live a few years following diagnosis, but others can survive much longer. Some patients might not have changes in their symptoms, while other patients might experience a faster worsening of their symptoms. It is not known why some people’s disease progresses faster than others. 

“Join a support group. If somebody puts out a hand for help, somebody will always hold it.”  – Colin* 

* Name has been changed for privacy.

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