DESCRIPTIONReiter's syndrome is an inflammatory disease characterized by a complex of symptoms resembling those of arthritis, urethritis, conjunctivitis, and psoriasis. This is probably a sexually transmitted disease. The joints, eyes (including white eye covering), urethra and head of the penis, and skin are involved. Reiter's syndrome affects adolescent and young adult males.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications, diagnosis, and supervision of treatment.
Self-care after diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSInflammation of the urethra and discharge within 7 to 14 days after sexual intercourse.
Frequent urinary urgency.
Small ulcers inside the mouth, on the tongue, and on the penis tip.
Painful joints, especially toes, legs, hips, and back.
Aching in the pelvis.
Skin lesions similar to psoriasis on the soles and palms and around the fingernails and toenails.
Unknown. The predisposition is inherited, and the disease usually follows sexual contact. It probably represents an unusual response to a sexually transmitted infection.
RISK FACTORSRecent gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea.
Previous sexually transmitted infections.
Family history of Reiter's syndrome.
Genetic factors. Most persons with this disease carry antigen HLA-B27.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEAdvise your son to use rubber condoms for sexual intercourse.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies and culture of the urethral discharge.
Your son's arthritis symptoms may continue up to 4 months; others disappear sooner. Most patients recover in 2 to 16 weeks with no residual signs of the disease, but some have recurrent flare-ups and remissions.
HOME CARETo relieve foot pain, your son should wear cushion pads and arch supports in his shoes.
MEDICATIONNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, for urethritis.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
ACTIVITYYour son should stay as active as the condition allows, but it is important to avoid sexual excitement and activity during the illness.
Your son should exercise the affected joints according to instructions from your doctor or physical therapist. Don't immobilize affected joints.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of Reiter's syndrome.
Symptoms recur after recovery.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.