Reiter’s syndrome - symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

What is Reiter’s Syndrome

Reiter’s syndrome - An inflammatory disorder commonly associated with INFECTION by the MICROBE Chlamydia trachomatis. Other pathogens that cause GASTROENTERITIS or SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDS) may also be responsible. Reiter’s syndrome involves three components: URETHRITIS, reactive arthritis (arthritis that develops in reaction to infection elsewhere in the body), and CONJUNCTIVITIS. People who have Reiter’s syndrome often have the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27, which is also associated with the autoimmune arthritis ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS. Some people develop INFLAMMATION of the AORTA and other major arteries as a consequence of the involvement of vascular connective tissue.

Symptoms of Reiter’s syndrome and Diagnostic Path

Any of the three components of Reiter’s syndrome may appear first, though commonly the urethritis is the first to manifest symptoms. The other two components generally appear within 28 to 35 days of the first component. Symptoms typically include

  • general feeling of malaise
  • low-grade FEVER
  • MUSCLE aches and soreness, particularly when resting
  • burning, itchy eyes
  • conjunctivitis or IRITIS
  • inflammation of the TENDON insertion point in affected joints (a unique arthritic symptom)
  • genital discharge and painless, shallow ulcers

The diagnostic path includes laboratory testing for CHLAMYDIA in urethral and genital discharges as well as any fluid the doctor aspirates (withdraws with a needle and syringe) from affected joints. XRAY studies may show characteristic changes in the affected joints.

Reiter’s syndrome Treatment Options and Outlook

The mainstay of treatment for Reiter’s syndrome is therapy with NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS (NSAIDS). NSAIDs, usually prescription forms, control both inflammation and PAIN. An active bacterial infection requires treatment with the appropriate ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATIONS. Symptoms tend to last three to six months in most people; sometimes longer. In about a third of people, the arthritis component becomes chronic. Two thirds of people fully recover without residual effects.

Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

Men who develop Reiter’s syndrome outnumber women about 10 to 1. Sexually transmitted chlamydia infection is the most common cause of the syndrome, so measures to reduce exposure to STDs can significantly reduce the development of Reiter’s syndrome.


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The Musculoskeletal System

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