The Sjogren's Society of Canada will be holding the 7th Annual National Conference on May 10 and 11th this year, so I thought I would tell you a little about last year's conference which was called "Learn, Connect & Empower" and was held in London, Ontario.
The information below about the speakers is very limited and only reflects a fraction of what they said.
There were 7 speakers featured. Dr Bookman started off by giving an overview. He says that people who come to the Sjogren's Clinic that he runs have usually seen 3 doctors before they get a diagnosis. He described Sjogren's as difficult to treat.
Then we heard from Dr Rookaya Mather. She pointed out that dry eye actually causes functional disability because of the visual disturbance and discomfort of the eye. The effect on the quality of your life is similar to that of having moderate angina and it is best to tackle it early. She recommends 2000 to 3000 units of Omega 3 per day from fish or from flax.
The next speaker was Dr Juan Yepes talking about dry mouth, which is one of the worst symptoms to deal with if you ask me. There's a helpful product in the US called Aquoral which he recommended as the #1 prescription product. He also recommended xylitol because it changes the action of the bacteria in the mouth, and chlorhexidine mouthwash. He mentioned this article about a proposed electrostimulative device that could help in future.
xylitol molecule wikimedia.org
As usual one of the most keenly anticipated segments was the round table discussions where individual patients have a chance to ask some questions of their own. There were 11 tables, each with a doctor or other health care professional who would answer questions. Even when your own question is not being answered it is instructive to hear the responses.
After a very good lunch we heard from Dr. Ann Parke. Her talk was titled "Sjogren's Syndrome a Lymphocyte Agressive Disease: From Dryness to Lymphoma." We found that 50% or more of RA patients may have Sjogren's Syndrome. There is an increased risk of lymphoma but it occurs in under 10%, and is most commonly MALT . She mentioned a new concept that says Sjogren's is "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) of the mucous membranes".
Dr Kevin Fung talked about Ear, Nose & Throat Complications. He sees 80% cancer patients and 20% Sjogrens and diagnoses by ocular and oral signs as well as saliva, bloodwork and biopsy. As an ENT doctor he deals with salivary issues, nose and sinuses, ear, thyroid and throat, including swallowing and speaking. His expertise was greatly appreciated.
Dr Miriam Grushka is the first person I would go to see for burning mouth syndrome. The symptoms include not only the oral burning but also dryness, the feeling that something is stuck in your throat and changes in the way food tastes. Your oral tissue can appear normal during this.
Dr Cindy Hutnik was the final speaker and her talk was titled Eye Lid Facts and Fiction! I found out that 50% of people with rosacea have blepharitis. It is also very common in Sjogren's and rheumatoid disease. The lacritin which renews the eye surface is missing in dry eye. To prevent blepharitis you need regular eye checks and also eyelid hygiene. This includes warm compresses, lid massage and lid washing. There is strong evidence that Restasis restores health to tear glands. Another point made was that avoidance of BAK (benzylchromium chloride) is important. This is a preservative found in some eye drops. Preservative free is the better choice for frequent users and sensitive eyes.
So that's a small view last year's conference. I'm looking forward to another this year. If you are interested in attending you can get further details on the website at http://www.sjogrenscanada.org/ and I will see you there.