Adult Still's disease

Adult Still's disease is a rare type of arthritis that features a sore throat, a salmon-colored rash and a high fever that spikes once or twice a day. Joint pain tends to develop a few weeks after these initial signs and symptoms.

The cause of adult Still's disease is unknown, but researchers are investigating the possibility that it might be triggered by some type of infection. Some people experience just one episode of adult Still's disease. In other people, the condition persists or recurs.

Adult Still's disease is an inflammatory type of arthritis, similar to rheumatoid arthritis. This inflammation can destroy affected joints, particularly the wrists. Treatment involves medications, such as prednisone, that help control inflammation.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Most people with adult Still's disease experience a combination of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sore throat. One of the very first symptoms of adult Still's disease is a sore throat. The lymph nodes in your neck also might be swollen and tender.
  • Fever. You may experience a daily fever of at least 102 F (38.9 C) for a week or longer. The fever usually peaks in the late afternoon or early evening. Sometimes, you may experience two fever spikes daily. Between episodes, your temperature will likely return to normal.
  • Rash. A salmon-pink rash may come and go with the fever. The rash usually appears on your trunk, arms or legs. Physical contact, such as rubbing your skin, may provoke the rash to appear.
  • Achy and swollen joints. You may find that your joints — especially your knees, wrists, ankles, elbows, hands and shoulders — are stiff, painful and inflamed. Usually, the joint discomfort lasts at least two weeks.
  • Muscle pain. Muscular pain associated with adult Still's disease usually ebbs and flows with the fever, but the pain may be severe enough to disrupt your daily activities.

Having any of these signs or symptoms doesn't necessarily mean that you have adult Still's disease. The signs and symptoms of this disorder may mimic those of other conditions, including mononucleosis and a type of cancer called lymphoma.

When to see a doctor

If you have a high fever, rash and achy joints, see your doctor to determine what may be the cause. Also, if you have adult Still's disease and develop a cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain or any other unusual symptoms, call your doctor.

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