What is Behcet's Disease?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2018
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Behcet's disease is a rare condition that most commonly occurs in people of Middle Eastern and Asian descent, however, it is not exclusive to these groups, and can affect many other races and ethnicities. It tends to have a greater effect on men than it does on women, and it can be a very difficult disease to live with. Though symptoms may be controlled to a degree, they cannot be cured. However, people with the disease often have periods of remission followed by a flareup of Behcet's disease.

The three most basic symptoms of Behcet's disease are ulcerations or sores in the mouth, sores on the genitals and severe swelling of the eyes. Other symptoms can occur and these include difficulties with the bowel and digestion in general, swelling of the joints, which creates arthritis, and swelling in the spinal cord, which can impair movement. Essentially, Behcet's disease inflames the blood vessels, and this is why it can affect almost any part of the body, though the top three symptoms are looked for if the disease is suspected, since they are most common.


Principle ways of treating with this disease are to treat the symptoms. It is especially important to treat eye swelling, since it can result in blindness. When Behcet's disease becomes more complicated there can be brain or overall movement injury that might result in memory loss or other complications. It’s very important to work with a doctor when a Behcet’s flare is in progress so the doctor can suggest and prescribe medications that will reduce inflammation.

It is unclear whether Behcet's disease is an autoimmune disease. Some doctors feel that it may be very useful to prescribe immunosuppressive drugs to try to control symptoms and to help during periods when the disease is most active. Other medications that may be beneficial include things designed to promote comfort, such as steroid mouthwash, which may help eliminate some pain caused by mouth sores, and topical meds to treat ulcerations on the skin and on the genitals.

People who have this condition will need support, and it may be hard to find others with Behcet's because the disease is so rare. Fortunately, in this regard, the Internet is a help, and there are several online support groups and message boards that may assist others. It’s equally important to take advantage of times when remission occurs. Many doctors recommend that people try to pursue normal activities like exercise as much as possible during remission periods. When the disease flares, though, rest and work with a doctor is recommended to get the condition under control again.



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