Behcet’s syndrome (more commonly now known as Behcet’s disease) is a very rare auto-inflammatory condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels and body tissues.
Behcet’s disease presents with a number of symptoms including:
• mouth and genital ulcers
• painful, reddened eyes and blurring of the vision
• acne-like spots
• stiff, swollen joints
• bloating and stomach pain
Eye problems should be treated promptly as there is a risk that prolonged inflammation could lead to loss of vision.
In many Behcet’s disease sufferers, the symptoms flare-up and then disappear regularly. This condition is referred to as relapsing and remitting Behcet’s disease.
A variety of tests will be carried out to reach a definitive diagnosis and to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms presented. These tests include:
• blood and urine tests
• X-rays, CT and MRI scans
• skin biopsy
• pathergy test (test for hypersensitive skin)
A positive diagnosis can be made if you have had at least three episodes of mouth ulcers in a 12 month period and present with at least two of the following:
• eye inflammation
• genital ulcers
• skin lesions
There is no specific one test for Behcet's disease.
Behcet's disease is an auto-inflammatory condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue and blood vessels.
Behcet's disease is thought to be genetic, as it is seen more commonly in certain ethnic groups. The condition is most common in Middle East, Far East and Mediterranean countries including Iran, Turkey, and Israel.
Behcet's disease can’t be cured, but it is usually possible to manage and control its symptoms in the part of the body that is affected by using appropriate medication.
Skin conditions can be effectively treated using corticosteroids and soothing anti-inflammatories. Immunosuppressant drugs are also commonly prescribed to damp down the body’s immune system and prevent it from attacking healthy cells and tissue. Biological therapies that target the various biological processes involved in the inflammation process are also commonly used.
Sucralfate is effective in the treatment of orogenital ulcers and can be used directly on the ulcers or as an oral rinse. Alternatively, colchicine is the first line tablet therapy when topical drugs are ineffective. If the ulcers are problematic and escalation is required, azathioprine is usually the drug of choice that your doctor will prescribe.
Each case of Behcet's disease tends to present with a slightly different combination of symptoms, which ebb and flow as the disease relapses and then goes into remission. Your team of health care professionals will work to create a particular treatment plan to address the symptoms that you are suffering from.
There is currently no known cure for Behcet's disease. However, it is treatable through the use of immunosuppressant drugs to control the immune system’s response and to control the symptoms it causes.
The majority of the symptoms caused by Behcet's disease are not life-threatening, although they can be painful and inconvenient. Unfortunately, the disease does not naturally burn itself out and you will suffer from flare-ups throughout your life. As people get older, the flare-ups become less aggressive and tend to occur much less frequently.
As a Behcet's disease sufferer, you can expect to enjoy a normal lifespan and you should be able to lead a close-to-normal daily life, with the assistance of suitable drugs to control the symptoms of the disease.
Behcet's disease is a rare and incurable auto-inflammatory condition that primarily affects people from certain ethnic groups. The disease can be efficiently managed through the use of immunosuppressant drug therapy and medication that is appropriate to each individual patient’s symptoms.
People with Behcet's disease usually enjoy a normal life expectancy.