Life is stressful enough and when add the stress of living with symptoms of Sjogren’s it can feel like too much. Many of us find ourselves scrambling to figure out the “magic formula” to feeling better, only to say “well that didn’t help” after making a change.
Finding what your body really does respond to is so hard, but when found it’s incredibly empowering. Combined with your prescribed regimen, changes in lifestyle behaviors (or on their own) can be your friend when it comes to getting those symptoms to behave.
I’ve learned to accept that living with a chronic illness does tend to impose some limits on my active life. Knowing what activities or events trigger your symptoms to flare up is a HUGE help in letting you take steps to be prepared to manage those symptoms that pop up.
This page is full of products Sjogren’s patients use and can benefit from. Just click the images to find out more about them.
I will highlight my favorites. Just so you know, I may earn a very small commission if you make a purchase through clicking on one of these products (at no extra cost to you!).
Sjogren’s Disease Symptom Trigger Tracking Journals
One of the hardest parts of getting your Sjogren’s symptoms under control is knowing what makes them worse. Taking your best guess can be hit and miss, so it takes a closer look over time to get it right.
To identify what brings on your symptom flares, download my free symptom trigger tracking journal: (no commission for this one, it’s mine, and it’s free!)
I recently went to a football game in freezing cold weather with wind blowing relentlessly. Our seats were in the nosebleed section, so I had to go up so.many.stairs. When I wanted something hot to drink or to hit the rest room, down the stairs I went, then back up. Let’s just say I haven’t been as active lately so my heart rate was waaay up there! Adding to that, I didn’t want any more coffee (too much caffeine, and all), so I drank not one, but two great big cups of hot chocolate (excess sugar, anyone?).
Needless to say, this was a recipe for a flare, which I am still amazed that I managed to keep at a minimum.
Symptoms of Sjogren’s Disease go way beyond just dry eyes and mouth.
Dry Eye Symptoms
#1 product that helped me? This inexpensive little gem. It’s a dry eye therapy mask you heat it up for 20 seconds in the microwave, it’s so easy and really brings relief. Some people in my private Facebook Groups have also recommended this soothing eye mask.
Some other products that soothe the dry, scratchy, painful eyes. Each person has a different brand preference, but if you’re going with eye drops to deal with that dryness, be sure to go with preservative free.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
A little dry mouth here and there is usually no big deal for most people. But it can be a major Sjogren’s symptom that can cause painful and expensive dental problems. For more about dry mouth, check out my latest post here.
BUT, Xylimelts have become my absolute favorite for my Sjogren’s dry mouth at night. They adhere to your gums and take hours to dissolve, which prompts your mouth to release saliva through the night (or until they dissolve). My dentist recommended them because my mouth was getting drier than it had been in the past, and my gum health began to suffer. For the next six months, I used them every night and lo and behold, my gums were much healthier at my next appointment!
If I could be a cheerleader for one product, this would be it!
Dry Nose can be a Symptom of Sjogren’s Too
Of course, I can’t leave out the nose – here’s a saline nasal gel with aloe that has a 4.8 (close enough to 5, if you ask me) star rating on Amazon.
Dry Skin Solutions
Every winter seems to get progressively worse for my skin, especially on my hands, and especially from washing them so many times a day (thank you COVID!). This stuff is my go-to when my skin is really bad. I got it as a Christmas gift and love it. It’s not greasy if you rub it in thoroughly, and it soaks right in.
A fellow Sjogie I know was having so much trouble with her skin, she tapped into her doctoral training and developed a line of skin care products that she custom makes for each individual customer. Check out her stuff!
Sjogren’s Symptoms aren’t all about dryness, either.
When you live with Sjogren’s Syndrome, pain can be in your joints or muscles, and sometimes a little warmth can be so comforting. When I got home from the football game, I went straight to my favorite heating pad.
On days when I can’t get a muscle to release, I use my TENS unit. Some people think it feels great, I think it feels weird, honestly, but it does get your muscles to let go. My link takes you to an updated version of what we have.
If you want to go directly to the trigger points causing you problems, this gadget has great reviews on Amazon.
Many people with Sjogren’s experience painful feet. Whether that’s from neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, or something else, research indicates compression socks are very helpful. I use these, and when my feet ache for any reason, I do find them soothing. People in my Facebook groups rave about them too.
Fatigue has been listed as the #1 life-interfering symptom in survey after survey. There really is no easy fix and no medication reliably treats it.
One thing is obvious – sleep. Many people struggle with getting restful sleep, and more and more of us are turning to podcasts, meditation recordings, etc. But how do you fall asleep to something when you have a partner right next to you? I have been using earbuds for years, and they are a constant frustration – from the wires getting tangled, having to take one out every time I turn over (I’m a side sleeper). Not to mention how often earbuds go bad on you. Recently I received a wireless Musicozy headband as a gift and am in love with it! It’s comfortable on my head, the speakers are flat, so they’re comfortable for side sleeping. And the sound is great! They are rechargeable, and I have found I can easily get through a night without it losing charge. Highly recommended!
Now as far as daytime help, previous recommendations to build up exercise intensity to combat fatigue (which imply that if you are tired it’s your fault) have been debunked. BUT, early studies on Sjogren’s fatigue and walking do support working some physical activity into our lives. Notice I say some, because there is a very real thing called post-exertional malaise (PEM).
Since this is a post about products, I will tell you about my favorite things that get me moving and don’t knock me out from that post-exertional malaise. BUT, if this term is new to you, head on over to this post to learn what I’m talking about.
My hands down favorite thing to do when the weather’s nice is to get outside and walk, or maybe even do a little hiking. But I have to monitor my heart rate and activity trackers are a great way to do that. I have had three different Fitbits – my first one didn’t track heart rate which is why I upgraded. My second one was the Fitbit Charge 3, which they don’t make anymore. A few years into owning that one the screen became faded to almost completely black.
My brand new one is the Versa 2, although the most current version is the Versa 4. Similar to the Charge, it tracks heart rate, counts steps, calories burned right on the watch face, so you don’t have to pull up the app to see your stats. It also keeps track of sleep patterns, stairs climbed, and active minutes. Premium features which require a paid membership include heart rate variability which is an awesome way to monitor how well you are managing that stress response.
Aside from activity trackers, I am STILL in love with the Wii Fit and never get bored with the games. They’re good for building strength and balance, plus the aerobic activities are always fun. I know I’m not alone, there are plenty of die-hard fans who wish Nintendo would just bring it back already!
To play Wii Fit games, you need a Wii or Wii U system (of course). You will notice this is not a recent release, because Nintendo replaced the Wii with the Switch several years ago. We have that also, but I rarely use it for exercise because it has few compatible fitness games for it. Also, they don’t encourage you to exercise at a healthy pace for you – they encourage you to push yourself, which is why I still favor the Wii fitness games.
For me, the biggest help to reduce my symptoms has been through my diet.
Research demonstrates that foods included in the Mediterranean diet are the most powerful at reducing inflammation. However, you may not know if you have sensitivities to some foods, so the AIP diet (Autoimmune Protocol) can help you go through a food-elimination with gradual reintroduction process to identify what you should avoid.
For cooking your favorite anti-inflammatory recipes (I LOVE my Ninja Foodie!), this gem is versatile and cleans up in a snap.
Bring Down That Stress
One of the biggest triggers for a flare in many people is high stress. Tuning into our senses can have a profound effect on our state of mind. One way to do that is with coloring – it can boost mindfulness, which is shown to help relieve a number of symptoms.