Reiter's Syndrome

Reiter’s syndrome is an inflammatory reaction to an infection somewhere in the body. It usually follows an infection of the urinary, genital, or digestive tract. It is treated with rest and medication.

  • Causes

    Reiter's syndrome is triggered by certain infections. It is usually caused by the bacterium
    that causes chlamydia. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner. The infection can also begin in the digestive system. In these cases, the infection occurs after eating food tainted with bacteria.

  • Definition

    Reiter’s syndrome is an inflammatory reaction to an infection somewhere in the body. It usually follows an infection of the urinary, genital, or digestive tract. It is treated with rest and medication.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor uses these findings to help make the diagnosis. There is no specific test to check for Reiter’s syndrome.

    Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids and tissues. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Culture, gram stain, or other tests
    • Removal of fluid from the affected joints

    Your doctor may need pictures of your bodily structures. This can be done with X-rays.

  • Prevention

    To reduce your chances of getting Reiter's syndrome, take these steps:

    • Always use a latex condom during sexual activity
    • Have a monogamous relationship
    • Do not go back and forth between sexual partners
    • Have regular checkups for STDs
    • Wash hands before eating or handling food
    • Only eat foods that have been stored and prepared properly

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of getting Reiter's syndrome include:

    • Family members with Reiter's syndrome
    • Inheriting the genetic trait associated with Reiter’s syndrome (HLA-B27)
    • Having a chlamydia infection or an infection in the digestive system

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms occur in the joints, the eyes, the urinary tract, and genitals. Men and women may experience different symptoms. In rare cases, heart problems may develop later in the disease.

  • Treatment

    There is no cure for Reiter’s syndrome. Most patients recover from the initial episode within 12 months. But some develop mild, chronic arthritis. Some patients suffer from additional episodes of the disorder.

    Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and may include: