skin being examined by doctor

Dangers of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) are on a continuum of severe skin reactions that are often caused by medications. SJS is less severe than TEN because it covers approximately 10% of the body while TEN affects 30% or more of the body.

These severe skin conditions usually begin with fever and flu-like symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat and mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Burning eyes

After the fever and flu-like symptoms, the skin starts to blister and peel. This causes painful raw areas of the skin called erosions, which resemble severe hot-water burns. Skin erosion usually begins on the face and chest before spreading throughout the body. The top layer of the skin dies, sheds, and heals after several days or months depending on the severity.

SJS can also damage mucous membranes, including membranes in the lining of the mouth and airways, which can cause trouble swallowing and breathing, membranes in the urinary tract and genitals, and membranes in the eyes causing irritation and redness.

Severe damage to the skin and mucous membranes can be life-threatening because the skin is the protective barrier to hold the fluid in our bodies. If the skin is damaged there can be a severe loss of fluids, which can cause infections.

Severe complications of SJS include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Blood infections (sepsis)
  • Shock
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Death

Approximately 10% of SJS patients die and about 50% of TEN patients die. However, even if patients survive SJS/TEN, they may face a lifetime of severe complications.

Long-term complications of SJS/TEN can include:

  • Chronic dehydration
  • Skin-coloring changes
  • Dry skin and mucous membranes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal or loss of fingernails and toenails
  • Impaired taste
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Genital abnormalities
  • Chronic dryness or inflammation of the eyes leading to light sensitivity and vision impairment
  • Lung damage, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma

SJS Link to Medications & Over-Prescription

Medications most frequently associated with causing SJS/TEN include:

  • Medications to treat seizures and mental illness (anticonvulsants and antipsychotics, especially carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and phenytoin)
  • Allopurinol (used to treat kidney stones and gout)
  • Class of antibiotic drugs called sulfonamides
  • Nevirapine (used to treat HIV)
  • Oxicams (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs)
  • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve)

SJS can occur by simply taking the medication or if a healthcare provider prescribes a dose that is too high and triggers a reaction.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with SJS/TEN due to an over-prescription or incorrect dosing of a medication, our Minnesota Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw can help. Our team has more than 35 years of experience getting justice for our clients, including those who were harmed by a dangerous medication or medical malpractice. Reach out to us today for a free consultation of your potential case. Leave the sleepless nights to our team by contacting us today!

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