Behcet disease is a rare, long-term disorder. Blood vessels are inflamed throughout the body. It causes ulcers in the mouth and groin, and inflammation in the eyes. Treatment improves outcomes.
The cause of Behcet disease is unknown. The body’s immune system may be too active. When this happens, healthy tissue is attacked. It may be due to genes or a reaction to an infection.
Behcet disease is more common in men from the Middle East and Mediterranean. It is also more common in people 20 to 39 years of age. Other things that raise the risk are:
- A family history of Behcet disease
- Having a certain gene
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 mouthUlcerated Gums.
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- Genital sores
- Eye problems, such as:
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Watery eyes
- Joint swelling and pain
- 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
- Excessive tiredness
Behcet can also cause serious problems such as:
- Blood clots—especially in the legs
- Heart problems such as:
- Central nervous system problems such as:
Stroke from a Cerebral Aneurysm.
- Swelling of the brain and membrane that lines the brain
- Problems with moving around or speaking
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- Ulcers and inflammation of the digestive tract—this is rare
These problems need medical care right away.
Diagnosing Behcet disease is difficult. Symptoms appear slowly, over months or years. They are similar to symptoms of many other diseases.
There are no specific tests to diagnose Behcet disease. It may be suspected based on:
Having mouth sores at least 3 times within a year and at least 2 of these:
- Eye inflammation
- Genital sores
- Skin sores
A pathergy skin test may be used. The skin is pricked with a small needle. If a bump forms at the site of the skin prick, it could mean Behcet disease. But many people with Behcet do not have a reaction to the skin prick.
The goals of treatment are to manage symptoms and stop problems Behcet can cause. For some people, the illness may go away on its own. With proper care, Behcet disease can be managed.
Treatment options may be:
- Creams, lotions, and mouth rinses—to help ease swelling and pain
- Other medicines taken by mouth to:
- Ease swelling and pain
- Change how the immune system responds
- Lifestyle changes such as:
- Resting when symptoms flare
- Working out to keep joints flexible and strong
Behcet disease cannot be prevented.
- Behçet disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/vasculitis/behçet-disease.
- Behcet syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/behcet-syndrome.
- Davatchi, F. Behçet's disease. Int J Rheum Dis, 2018; 21 (12): 2057-2058.
- Medical summary of Behcet's disease. American Behcet's Disease Association website. Available at: https://www.behcets.com/medical-summary.
- Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
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