Behçet's Disease

Behçet's disease is a rare, chronic, lifelong disorder. It involves inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.

CAUSES

The exact cause is unknown. It is believed that an autoimmune reaction may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is not clear what triggers this reaction.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of Behçet's disease include:

  • Returning (recurrent) genital ulcers and oral ulcers that resemble canker sores.

  • Eye inflammation.

The disorder may also cause:

  • Various types of skin sores (lesions).

  • Arthritis.

  • Bowel inflammation.

  • Inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

This disease generally begins when patients are in their 20s or 30s. But all age groups may be affected. Behçet's is a multisystem disease. It may involve all organs and affect the central nervous system. This may cause:

  • Memory loss.

  • Impaired speech, balance, and movement.

TREATMENT

There is no cure for Behçet's disease. Treatment typically focuses on reducing discomfort and preventing serious complications. The effects of the disease may include blindness, stroke, swelling of the spinal cord, or intestinal complications. Corticosteroids and other medications that suppress the immune system may be given to treat inflammation.

Behçet's recurs or keeps causing problems (chronic). But patients may have periods of time when symptoms go away temporarily (remission). How bad the disease gets is different from patient to patient. Some patients may live normal lives. Others may become blind or severely disabled.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

American Behçet's Disease Association: www.behcets.com