Definition

Behcet disease is a rare, chronic disorder. Blood vessels are inflamed throughout the body. It causes ulcers in the mouth and genitals, and inflammation in the eyes.

Causes

The cause of Behcet disease is unknown. The body’s immune system may be too active. When this happens, healthy tissue is attacked. It’s not known what causes this problem. It may be related to genetics or a reaction to an infection.

Risk Factors

Your chances of Behcet disease are higher if you:

  • Are aged 20-39 years old
  • Are male in the US
  • Are female in the Middle East, Asia, or Japan
  • Have a family history
  • Carry a certain gene

Symptoms

Symptoms vary from mild to very serious. They also tend to come and go over months or years. The most common are:

  • Sores in the mouth:
    • Affect almost all people with the disease
    • Usually are the first to appear
  • Ulcerated Gums
    Periodontal Disease
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  • Genital sores
  • Eye disease:
    • Redness
    • Blurry vision
    • Light sensitivity
    • Watery eyes
  • Joint swelling and pain—usually does not cause permanent joint damage
  • Skin problems such as sores that:
    • May appear as red, raised sores or bumps, or may be flat
    • Usually appear on the legs and upper part of the body

Serious problems associated with Behcet:

  • Excess tiredness
  • Blood clots—especially in the legs
  • Aneurysm
  • Heart problems such as:
  • Central nervous system problems such as:
    • Inflammation of the brain and membrane that lines the brain
    • Headache
    • Problems with moving around or speaking
  • Stroke from a Cerebral Aneurysm
    Cerebral Aneurysm
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  • Digestive problems:
    • Causes ulcers and inflammation of the digestive tract—rare

These problems need prompt medical care.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Behcet disease is difficult because symptoms:

  • Are similar to those of many other diseases
  • Often appear slowly, over months or years

There are no specific tests to diagnose Behcet disease. It may be suspected based on:

Mouth sores at least 3 times within a year and at least 2 of these:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Genital sores
  • Skin sores

You may have a pathergy skin test. The skin is pricked with a small needle. If you have Behcet disease, a bump will develop at the site of the skin prick. However, this test is not conclusive. Many people with the disease do not have a reaction to the skin prick.

Treatment

For some people, the illness may go away on its own. If care is needed, it focuses on treating problems to prevent serious complications. With proper care, Behcet disease can be managed.

Medicines

Topical medicines include creams, lotions, and mouth rinses. They help ease swelling and pain.

Other medicines are taken by mouth to:

  • Ease swelling and pain
  • To change the response of the immune system

You and your doctort will watch for serious side effects to these medicines.

Rest and Exercise

General guidelines include:

  • Rest when symptoms flare to help speed healing.
  • Engage in moderate exercise when symptoms recede to help keep joints flexible and strong.

Prevention

Behcet disease can’t be prevented because the cause is unknown.

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