Reactive arthritis, earlier known as the Reiter’s syndrome is a type of arthritis that develops as a reaction to an infection in your body. It is a systemic rheumatic disease that can affect different organs of the body, which can cause swelling of the tissues of different parts of the body like eyes, mouth, kidneys and lungs. Sometimes you would not recognize the development of this ailment as it may cause only mild symptoms or sometimes even none.
This medical condition may affect people at any age but mostly it is known to affect people of the age group 30-40 years. It may occur suddenly and severely or sometimes gradually with irregular recurrences. The exact cause of Reactive arthritis remains a mystery but scientists suggest that it may occur after certain genital infections, mostly in males. In addition, it can develop in both male and female after bowel infection.
Top Causes of Reactive Arthritis
The immune system is our inbuilt defense system that protects us from any infection but in Reactive arthritis, the immune system does not get correct signals and fight against the healthy cells even when there is no sign of infection in the body. In this medical condition, the immune system seems to keep reacting to a previous infection in the body. This weakens the body and leads to inflammation of the affected area in the body.
Bacteria forms as one of the most important causes of Reactive arthritis. Some of the common bacteria causing this ailment include Salmonella and Chlamydia.
Also, Shigella and Yersinia are known to cause Reactive arthritis. Though, Reactive arthritis is not a contagious disease but the bacteria causing this disease can be sexually transmitted. People also often get this disease by eating the food contaminated with these bacteria.
Genetics play an important role in Reactive arthritis. It is observed that people with HLA-B27 gene tend to develop this medical condition more than those who do not have this special gene. It may affect people who tend to inherit this gene from the older generations and have had a family history of Reactive arthritis. Though the exact connection between this gene and Reactive arthritis is unknown, these patients get more severe symptoms.
Infections are yet another significant causes of Reactive arthritis. It is observed that mostly two types of infections lead to this ailment. These infections are either sexually transmitted or the gastrointestinal infections that is the infection of the digestive system and stomach.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are the two main bacteria that are observed to cause this ailment. In addition, gastrointestinal infections are known to be caused because of the campylobacter and salmonella bacteria, often associated with food poisoning. Reactive arthritis mostly affects males who are sexually very active. They are likely to be affected between the age group of 20 and 40. People suffering with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are considerably at a higher risk of getting Reactive arthritis.
Though it is not observed so often, but Reactive arthritis can also develop after certain viral infection. Some of the viruses that can cause this medical condition include herpes, Hepatitis, and Epstein Barr viruses.