Celebrities With Sjogrens Syndrome: Venus Williams, Nina Rawls, Shannon Boxx

What is Sjogren’s Syndrome? How common is it? What are the clues that a person may have this condition? And who of our favorite famous people are living with the condition?

According to the NHS website (nhs.uk), Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder whereby a person’s immune system, instead of protecting the body from illness or infection, attacks said person’s glands that secrete fluid, such as the tear and saliva. This reduces “the production of tears and saliva, causing the main symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome, which are dry eyes and dry mouth”.

Sjogren’s syndrome is the third most common rheumatic autoimmune disorder behind only rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus according to wikipedia. There is no definitive data on its prevalence but some reports state that the condition affects up to 3% of the population. According to the Sjogren Syndrome Foundation, as many as 4 million Americans are living with this disease.

Now that you know more about the disease, check out our list of celebrities with Sjogrens syndrome which begins with:

Venus Williams, tennis superstar. IN 2011, Venus Williams disclosed that she has Sjogren’s syndrome when she withdraw from the US Open and issued the following statement:

I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year’s U.S. Open. I have recently been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue, but right now I am unable to. I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.

Venus tells us more about her condition in this enlightening sit-down interview with Good Morning America. Watch:

From the interview, we learn that:

  • She had issues with Sjogren’s syndrome for a while but it took years before she was properly diagnosed with the disease.
  • That it takes an average of 6.5 years for people to get diagnosed.
  • For many years, no matter how much she trained, she never had stamina.
  • Years ago, she felt like she’s getting enough air and was diagnosed with exercise-induced ashtma but her medicines never worked.
  • Her symptoms include joint pain, swelling of hands, dry eyes, dry mouth, lost feel hands, swelling, numbness, fatigue, lack of energy, feeling like she has a cold but actually don’t have one, and feeling beat-up.
  • Huge relief for her to finally get the right diagnosis for her condition. Good news for her is that she now knows what is happening after spending years of not knowing.
  • Disease can’t be cured but can be treated. Sjogren’s is something that people will live with their whole life.
  • Withdrew from the U.S. Open because it’s taking effort to lift her arms.

Nina Rawls, widow of singer Lou Rawls. Like Venus, Nina revealed that she has Sjogren’s in 2011. Here’s what she says about her condition:

After years of misdiagnosis, it was a relief to finally have an answer to the horrible symptoms. Although I had not planned on revealing my diagnosis, I realize that we need to bring as much awareness to the disease as we can. I’m so happy that Venus has started to bring this disease to the forefront. I hope to do the same.

Ironically, I was motivated to go to my doctor to be tested from watching Toni Braxton discuss her Lupus symptoms on the WE Channel’s “Braxton Family Values” one afternoon. From that diagnosis my rheumatologist tested for Sjogren’s. I had be hospitalized several times over the last couple of years and needed very badly to have an answer…why.