Reiter's Syndrome is also known as Reactive Arthritis. It is an uncommon condition that causes severe inflammation of the joints, as well as skin lesions and inflammation of the mucous membranes. Reactive Arthritis usually occurs as a consequence of an apparently unrelated infection, usually of the intestinal or genito-urinary organs. Diagnosis can be difficult, and Reiter's Syndrome is sometimes incorrectly confused with yeast infection caused by Candida.
Reiter's Syndrome was first identified by Dr. Hans Reiter, a doctor who worked in Nazi Germany and who conducted his experiments on Jews and other racially profiled subjects. The term Reiter's Syndrome has now been largely replaced by the term Reactive Arthritis. Reactive Arthritis typically affects the joints of the knees, toes and ankles, but those suffering from the disorder may also experience severe skin complaints in the form of inflammation, scaling and lesions, particularly around the mucous membranes (eyes, mouth and genital areas) as well as the soles of the hands and feet.
Reactive Arthritis is a post-infectious disorder shown to result from viral or bacterial infection affecting the GI tract or genitals. Reactive Arthritis itself is not contagious, but is an uncommon after-effect of unrelated "trigger" infections, often food poisoning or a sexually transmitted infection.. Known "triggers" include Chlamydia as well as salmonella and campylobacter, but sometimes a viral throat infection can be the trigger. Patient UK reports that about 10 per cent of cases are said to occur without any identifiable trigger.
Reactive Arthritis is occasionally misdiagnosed as mucocutaneous candidiasis (candida infection of the mucous membranes). This is because the syndrome sometimes presents as crusted and scaling skin infections, particularly in the penile or vulval areas, as well as the hands, feet and eyes. In some of these cases the skin afflictions resemble skin conditions common to candidiasis or psoriasis, but there is no evidence suggesting that the disorder is caused by Candida yeasts.
Although Reactive Arthritis is often caused by a "trigger" infection, it is not the same as infectious arthritis, otherwise known as Septic Arthritis. Septic Arthritis is caused by an infection within the joint itself. Conversely, Reactive Arthritis occurs in uninfected parts of the body. It should be noted that Septic Arthritis may be caused directly by Candida infection within the joint. This may be Candida Albicans or another type of Candida yeast. This variety of Septic Arthritis is sometimes known as Candida Arthritis, but should not be confused with Reiter's Syndrome.
Why Reactive Arthritis occurs is not fully understood, and diagnosis is based on symptoms rather than tests. Treatment is palliative; symptoms may be temporarily relieved by anti-inflammatories. Underlying infections, if they are still present, may be treated with antibiotics. Misdiagnosis is common, but since Reactive Arthritis is not known to be caused by Candida infection, it will not respond to antifungal treatments. Reactive Arthritis usually gets better by itself after some months.