What is Steven Johnson Syndrome (SJS)?
Steven Johnson Syndrome is a rare, but serious disorder in which the skin and mucous membranes react severely to a medication or infection.
The disease occurs twice as often in men then in women however, most cases appear in children and young adults under 30.
Steven Johnson Syndrome presents a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalization. This disease has a sporadic and unpredictable reaction and there aren’t any tests available to help predict who is at risk.
What Are The Causes Of SJS?
Over 80 percent of cases are the result of an allergic reaction to prescription drugs or radiation treatment. The other percentages of victims suffer because of an illness.
Either way, the physiology of the disease works in the same manner. The body responds too aggressively to the foreign agent. However, instead of destroying the alien element, the body begins attacking itself.
Medications are most often the cause of Steven Johnson Syndrome. Drugs commonly associated with SJS are:
- Anti-Gout medications such as allopurinol
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs often used to treat pain
- Penicillin’s, which are used to treat infections
- Anti-convulsants used to treat seizures.
However infections such as Herpes, Influenza, and HIV among others can also cause Steven Johnson Syndrome
Symptoms and Treatment
Steven Johnson Syndrome usually beings with flu like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough, burning eyes, and fatigue, and is typically misdiagnosed and treated with antibiotics.
It is followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters, eventually causing the top layer of your skin to die and shed.
Ulcers and other lesions begin to appear in the mucous membranes, almost always in the mouth and lips but also in the genital and anal regions.
Recovery can range from weeks to months depending on severity. Doctors recommend that all patients who have developed SJS from medication avoid it permanently and all other related medications.
Majority of health care professionals says SJS is rare and only affects 2 out of 1 million people. However the disease still claims over 100,000 lives each year.