Behçet disease

What is Behçet's disease?

Behçet's disease or Behçet's syndrome is an inflammatory disease of the blood vessels. It is a rare autoimmune, chronic disease that affects blood vessels throughout the body.

Women with Behcet's disease sits on a bed.

Prognosis of Behçet's disease

Behçet's disease is chronic, but its symptoms can come and go over time. Symptoms can also vary in severity over time too. In fact, the condition has an intermittent evolution, with periods of activity and periods of remission in which no symptoms are detected. Whilst there is no cure for this condition, medical treatment can control symptoms.

Symptoms of Behçet's disease

The most common symptoms of Behçet's syndrome are:

  • Mouth sores
  • Genital sores
  • Puffy, swollen eyes
  • Headaches
  • Pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints

In some cases, the symptoms can evolve into complications such as meningitis, blood clots, loss of vision, inflammation of the digestive system and even stroke.

Medical tests for Behçet's disease

There is currently no specific test to diagnose this disease. Therefore, the doctor will often rely on the patient's symptoms and which part of the body they affect. In addition, blood tests, skin biopsies, a pathergy test and certain scans may also be done.

For example, if a patient has sores in the mouth or on the skin, swollen eyes, genital ulcers and is positive in a pathergy test, it is very likely that they have Behçet's syndrome.

What are the causes of Behçet's disease?

The exact cause of Behçet's syndrome is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoinflammatory condition. An autoinflammatory condition is one where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue, so in Behçet’s syndrome, it is thought that the immune system attacks the blood vessels. There are two factors that are thought to also play a role in this condition; genes and environmental factors.

Can Behçet's disease be prevented?

It is not possible to prevent Behçet's disease, because the cause is unknown. Once detected, the treatment will focus on managing the symptoms to prevent possible complications.

Treatments for Behçet's disease

Behçet's syndrome is a chronic disease and there is no definitive cure for it. The treatment is intended to reduce inflammation and pain and prevent the most serious problems using certain medications, such as steroids and immunosuppressant drugs.

What specialist treats it?

The specialist who treats Behçet’s disease is a rheumatologist. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, other specialists may also be involved, such as dermatologists.

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