What is Stevens Johnson Syndrome?
Also known as SJS, Stevens Johnson Syndrome is a skin disease that can prove deadly in some cases. SJS is usually caused by a reaction to various medications, but there are also cases of this disease where there is no known cause. Sufferers of Stevens Johnson Syndrome can experience immense distress and pain, and the disease could ultimately prove fatal. Some of the drugs that have been linked to a reaction such as SJS include cox-2 inhibitors, such as Bextra. Other drugs that have been linked to this skin disease include NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), Allopurinol, Phenytoin, Carbamazepine, barbiturates, anticonvulsants, and sulfa antibiotics.
There can be other causes of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, although the majority of cases stem from drug reactions. Bacterial infection has been attributed to this disease in some cases, and in other cases no cause at all has been identified. Any age group can be affected by this disease, and there are also certain groups that are at higher risk of contracting Stevens Johnson Syndrome. It tends to occur more commonly in older age groups, and also those with AIDS could be at increased risk of this skin disorder.
Another form of SJS is known as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS). This form of the disease is also commonly caused by drug reactions, and can result in layers of skin peeling off with ease, leaving exposed flesh open to infections.
The symptoms of Stevens Johnson Syndrome
Initially, the symptoms relating to Stevens Johnson Syndrome can be very generalized and non-specific. Cough, headaches, general aches, and fever are some of the symptoms associated with SJS. As the disease develops, sufferers may experience a rash, which can spread across the trunk of the body and the face. The disease then continues to develop, turning the rash into blisters, which can also go on to form in areas such as the mouth, eyes, and nose.
As this disease develops, the mucous membranes become inflamed, and in some cases can start to peel away from the flesh. Sufferers can become feverish and cold, and even the hair and nails can be affected.
Treating Stevens Johnson Syndrome
Stevens Johnson Syndrome sufferers have to be treated in the hospital, and care has to be taken not to leave exposed areas open to infection. The treatment of the disease will also be dependant upon the cause – for instance, if the SJS has been brought on by a reaction to a drug, which is usually the case, the drugs have to be stopped immediately. However, the success of any treatment administered for Stevens Johnson Syndrome will be dependant upon the extent of the disease, and this disease could ultimately prove fatal.
Litigation for Stevens Johnson Syndrome
Because the most common cause of Stevens Johnson Syndrome is a reaction to drugs, lawsuits have been filed against various drug manufacturers. The latest drugs to come under attack are the cox-2 inhibitors, such as Bextra. Some of the lawsuits claim that patients were allowed to take the drugs without the necessary warnings with regards to skin problems and potentially fatal side effects such as SJS.
A range of children’s medications have also been linked to this disease, such as Advil and Motrin, with a number of lawsuits being filed against manufacturers of such medications after young patients contracted side effects.
It is strongly advised that anyone taking medication that may be linked to this skin disorder remain vigilant for any signs or symptoms of the disease. Anyone concerned about symptoms that do present themselves should seek immediate medical attention. Higher risk groups should remain particularly vigilant for any signs of this disorder.
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