Glossary of Terms
Antibody: Substance in the blood that is normally made in response to infection.
Antigen: A chemical substance that causes the production of antibodies.
Autoantibody: An antibody that attacks the body's own tissues and organs as if thay were foreign.
Autoimmune disease: A condition where the body inappropriately produces antibodies against itself, causing damage to tissues. Sjogren's Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus are autoimmune diseases.
Connective tissue disease: A disorder marked by inflammation of the connective tissue (joints, skin, muscles) in multiple areas. Several such diseases are rheumatoid arhtritis, lupus and scleroderma.
Lacrimal glands: Two types of glands that produce essential eye fluids. Smaller accessory glands are found in the eyelid tissue and produce 'minute-to-minute' tear needs; the main lacrimal glands are located inside the bony cavity surrounding the eye and produce large amounts of tears.
Lip biopsy: An incision of about two centimeters on the inside surface of the lower lip to remove some of the miner salivary glands for microscopic examination.
Lymphocyte: Type of white blood cell concerned with antibody production and its regulation. Collections of lymphocytes are seen in the moisture-producing glands of Sjogren's patients.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Chemical derivatives of asprin wich generally cause fewer side-effects contain no cortisone and are used to treat joint pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other connectiv tissue diseases.
Punta: Small openings in the eyelids that normally drain tears. Patients with severe dry-eye may benefit from punctal closure to allow tear-preservation.
Rheumatologist: A physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic conditions; usually serves as primary care physician for patients with Sjogren's Syndrome.
Salivary glands: three pairs of major glands that produce saliva: the parotid, in front of the ear; the sublingual, on the floor of the mouth under the tongue; and the submandibular, below the lower jaw.
Schirmer test: A standard objective test to diagonise dry-eye. Strips of filter-paper are placed in the lower eye-lid and soak tears for five minutes. The value obtained it a rough estimate, in relative terms, of tear production. Lower values are constistent with dry-eye.
Sjogren's antibodies: Abnormal antibodies, SS-A (Ro) and SS-B (La)found in the blood of some Sjogren's patients.
Vasculitis: Inflammation of the blood vessels.
Vulvodynia: Chronic vulvar itching, burning, & pain that causes physical, sexual and psychological distress. This term means pain in the vulva & is a description of several symptoms – not a formal diagnosis. The word comes from the Greek term for pain, which is ‘dynia’. ‘Vulv’ indicates the location of the pain, which in this case is the vulva, the external area of the genitalia. Vulvar pain may be due to many causes, including infections, benign skin conditions, hormone depletion, trauma, nerve damage, and rarely, precancerous or malignant conditions. All of the above can contribute to vulvodynia.Note; a similar syndrome occurs in males called prostatodynia, in which certain areas of the male genitalia are afflicted with pain and discomfort.
Xerostomia: Dryness of the mouth often caused by salivary gland dysfunction. Can occur in diabetes, from drug and radiation therapy and from Sjogren's Syndrome.