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What is Reiter's Syndrome? Print E-mail
Written by Phillip LaVeque   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Reiter's syndrome is a condition that causes arthritis in people who are genetically susceptible. It may also affect the eyes and the urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder.

What is going on in the body?

Reiter's syndrome refers to a condition in which a person develops acute arthritis in response to an infection. The affected joints involved in the arthritis do not contain infection. The immune system causes inflammation of the joints in response to an infection in a person with Reiter's syndrome. Reiter's syndrome may be seen following many different infections, including:
_ sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia infection or HIV
_ urinary tract infection
_ intestinal infection, such as food poisoning known as salmonellosis

What are the causes and risks of the condition?
For unknown reasons, certain people are genetically susceptible to Reiter's syndrome. Eighty percent of the people with Reiter's syndrome have a gene known as HLA-B27. These individuals are at risk for Reiter's syndrome following an infection with certain bacteria or viruses, including:
_ campylobacter
_ chlamydia
_ salmonella
_ shigella

Reiter's syndrome is most commonly seen in men between the ages of 20 and 40 years. While women can develop the condition, they usually have milder symptoms than the men do.

What are the treatments for the condition?
When Reiter's syndrome is first diagnosed, a short period of bed rest may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. The healthcare provider may then recommend strengthening and range-of-motion exercises .

Following are some of the medications used to treat Reiter's syndrome:
_ antibiotics to treat the underlying infection that triggered Reiter's syndrome
_ nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, to help control joint pain
_ corticosteroids injected into the joints to control the swelling and pain
_ corticosteroid ointments applied to skin lesions
_ medications, such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine, to suppress the immune system response

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antibiotics may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and allergic reaction. NSAIDs can cause stomach upset and allergic reactions. Steroids may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of infection.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
Arthritis symptoms may continue for up to six months. Most people recover in 2 to 16 weeks, but some have recurrent flare-ups and remissions.

How is the condition monitored?
Repeated physical examinations and blood tests help monitor Reiter's syndrome. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


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