Stills Disease

by Sharon Hopkins


Stills disease is a form of systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It is named after the English physician Sir George F. Still. Stills disease affects more than thirty thousand children in the United States alone. In some rare cases, it may even affect adults in their twenties of thirties. The disease is characterized by high fevers, rashes and arthritis.

The root cause behind Stills disease is still unknown. Some doctors suspect that the disease stems from a microbe infection, yet others suspect that it is an autoimmune disorder. Medical research is still being carried out in order to determine the exact cause behind this disease so that an effective cure can be formulated.

Symptoms

Stills disease has some characteristic symptoms. The first sign of this ailment is the extreme fatigue accompanied with intermittent bouts of high fever. There is also a faint salmon colored rash on the skin. Swelling of the lymph glands, spleen, and liver is also observed. The patient suffers from a poor appetite and nausea. Some patients may even develop an inflammation in their lungs or heart. Eventually the arthritis begins to manifest itself in the joints. If the disease is left unchecked it may lead to an eventual fusion of the wrist bones.

Diagnosis of this disease is normally a fairly straightforward procedure due to its well defined symptoms. An initial diagnosis can be carried out on the basis of the symptoms such as fevers, and rashes. However, the final diagnosis will only be made after the arthritis has set in and lasted for at least six weeks. Blood tests may be carried out to exclude other infections; however, these are not always conclusive because many patients suffering from Stills disease may exhibit an elevated white blood cell count.

Treatments

Although the fevers and rashes eventually die down, the arthritis will usually persist long after the initial symptoms have faded. In some cases it may even persist well into adulthood. Treatment is carried out to treat the various symptoms associated with the disease. The fevers can be controlled by the use of anti-pyretic medicines and cold sponges. The rashes do not itch and since they disappear on their own, usually no treatment is prescribed for them. Anti-inflammatory drugs are widely used to control the inflammation caused due to arthritis. In advanced cases, medication is also used to retard the spread of the arthritic condition.


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