Your New Year’s resolution might be even more important than you think

Every January, many Americans make New Year’s resolutions, many of them to improve their health in the new year. We change our diets, start exercising and make our annual doctors’ appointments for physical check-ups. As you work toward a healthier you in 2012, here are some helpful tips to aid your discussion with your doctor.

First, it’s always a good idea to address any changes you plan to make to your diet or exercise routines so that your doctor can ensure it is a healthy regimen for you. Next, if you are taking any prescriptions, you may want to make a list and review them with your doctor to ensure they are up to date. Lastly, tell your doctor about any and all health symptoms or changes you may be experiencing, no matter how insignificant you think they may be. Some seemingly minor symptoms, such as dry mouth, may actually be a sign of a more serious condition like Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) syndrome, in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys moisture producing glands.

Sjogren’s affects an estimated 4 million Americans – but most people have never heard of it. In fact, the average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis is almost seven years. One reason for the delay in diagnosis may be that patients wait months (and sometimes even years!) before discussing their symptoms with their doctors. This is often because patients may not connect their symptoms, like cavities or a sore, cracked tongue, with dry mouth, which means they may not be describing their dry-mouth symptoms accurately or thoroughly when they finally do speak to a physician.

“As a Sjogren’s patient, I know how uncomfortable dry mouth can be, yet I never mentioned my dry mouth to my doctors until my dental hygienist noticed symptoms and asked me about them,” says Kathy McCarren from Woodbridge, Va. “Now I always suggest to others that if they notice that they are drinking a lot of liquids or have difficulty chewing, swallowing or talking because their mouths are dry, they need to tell their health care professionals right away. Not only can dry mouth lead to increased dental cavities, like it did for me, but it can also lead to more serious health problems.”

If you are experiencing dry-mouth symptoms, make it your resolution to Defy the Dry in 2012 and talk to your doctor or dentist about your symptoms. For more information on Sjogren’s syndrome, visit www.DefytheDry.com. There, you will find tools to help aid productive conversations about dryness symptoms with your doctor, such as a Sjogren’s symptoms checklist.

To make the most of your conversations with your doctor, be sure to bring a copy of the Sjogren’s symptoms checklist and follow these helpful tips:

* Be prepared to explain your dry-mouth symptoms in detail, including how they affect your daily activities (e.g., eating a meal, public speaking).
* Tell your doctor if you’ve been taking any over-the-counter products, lozenges, or other treatments to relieve your dryness symptoms. How you’re managing your symptoms now can help your doctor determine a treatment plan that’s right for you.
* Be honest! The more accurate information your doctor has, the more he or she can help you.
* Ask questions and take notes during the discussion.

Don’t let another year pass before you Defy the Dry. If you are experiencing dry-mouth symptoms, make it a point to talk to your doctor or dentist about your symptoms.

The Defy the Dry campaign is sponsored by the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation (SSF) and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.

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