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Guide to Reactive Arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome)


Updated May 26, 2014

3 of 10

Part 3 of 10 - What Are the Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis?


Overall, men between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to develop reactive arthritis. However, evidence shows that although men are nine times more likely than women to develop reactive arthritis due to venereally acquired infections, women and men are equally likely to develop reactive arthritis as a result of food-borne infections. Women with reactive arthritis often have milder symptoms than men.

Reactive arthritis most typically results in inflammation of the:

  • urogenital tract
  • joints
  • eyes

Less Common Symptoms

Less common symptoms are mouth ulcers and skin rashes. Any of these symptoms may be so mild that patients do not notice them. They usually come and go over a period of several weeks to several months.

Urogenital Tract

Reactive arthritis often affects the urogenital tract, including the:

  • prostate or urethra in men
  • urethra, uterus, or vagina in women

Men may notice an increased need to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, penis pain and a fluid discharge from the penis. Some men with reactive arthritis develop prostatitis. Symptoms of prostatitis can include fever and chills, as well as an increased need to urinate and a burning sensation when urinating.

Women with reactive arthritis may develop problems in the urogenital tract, such as cervicitis or urethritis, which can cause a burning sensation during urination. In addition, some women also develop salpingitis or vulvovaginitis. These conditions may or may not cause any arthritic symptoms.

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