Reiter’s Syndrome: The Causes


Reiter’s syndrome also known as reactive arthritis is a group of disorders. It includes urinary tract infection, redness in the eye and joint pain. It is reactive arthritis because it develops as a reaction to an infection which occurs at another part of the body. Another name for this condition is seronegative spondyloarthropathy because it is a group of disorders and conditions which cause inflammation of the joints.

The types of Reiter’s syndrome include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and inflammatory bowel syndrome arthritis.

What actually causes Reiter’s syndrome is not known. But this is the type of arthritis commonly characterised by inflammation that is swelling joints and pain. It is believed that certain sexually transmitted infections like HIV and Chlamydia, gastro intestinal infections such as shigella, salmonella and diarrhoea can trigger Reactive arthritis. It is more associated with Chlamydia trachomatis. It usually occurs one to three weeks after diarrhoea is caused by food poisoning.

Signs and Symptoms
Since it is caused mostly by sexually transmitted infections, certain signs in the sexual organs are indications of possible development of Reiter’s syndrome. These are inflammation in the cervix, frequent burning sensation during urination and fever which could be symptoms of sexually transmitted infections. The inflammation of the prostate gland in men after urethral infection could be considered as the beginning of Reiter’s syndrome. Such types are called urogenital or genitorurinary reactive arthritis.

The commonest symptoms of all types of arthritis are redness and inflammation of the eyes, and skin disorders like rash or lesions. There is an inflammation of certain delicate membranes lining the inner eyelids. There are certain skin disorders like small painless sores on the gland of the penis, in the roof of the mouth and on the tongue. When you notice any of these, check for Reactive arthritis.

There is another form of Reiter’s syndrome which is caused by eating or handling food contaminated with bacteria. It is called enteric or gastrointestinal reactive arthritis.

There is also the belief of genetic causes of this disease. The disease is common in men below 40 years. What is necessary is to identify the disease early so that it is treated early. The necessary precautions should be observed so as to prevent its development.

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