Name that syndrome: Can’t see, can’t pee, can’t climb a tree

Findings of the feed associated with Reiter's Syndrome
Findings of the feet associated with Reiter’s Syndrome

So do you know which syndrome goes with the findings of conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes), urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), and arthritis (inflammation of the joints)? An additional clue is the photo on the left of keratoderma blenorrhagicum, the fancy name for these red- brown plaques, bumps and pus bumps that can occur on the soles of the feet.  Additionally, another finding in men are circular red spots on the penis called circinate balanitis which is almost diagnostic of this condition.

We’re talking about Reiter’s Syndrome.  Reiter’s Syndrome classically is described as a triad of conjunctivitis (can’t see), urethritis (can’t pee), and arthritis (can’t climb a tree).  It often develops as a reaction to an infection such as Chlamydia in the urethra or cervix, or gastrointestinal infections from Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella, Yersinia or Ureaplasma.  Interestingly, there’s also a genetic predisposition to getting this.  Individuals who get this are more likely to have a genetic factor called HLA-B27.

So what to do if you have Reiter’s Syndrome? Well, hopefully you made your way to a doctor already who made the diagnosis.  Your physician will treat the underlying infection if one is found, and will manage the symptoms that you have individually.