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Behcet disease is a type of autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation of blood vessels. It’s a rare disease in the United States, but it is more common in the Middle East and Asia. It’s more common in people in their 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. The disease tends to be more severe in men, in younger people, and in people from the Middle East or Asia.
An autoimmune disease is caused by a problem with the immune system. The immune system’s job is to protect the body from disease. It does this by attacking things in the body, such as viruses, that may cause harm. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your own body.
In Behcet disease, the immune system attacks blood vessels in your body. This causes them to become swollen and inflamed. It can affect any size of blood vessels that carry blood around your body. The inflammation can cause many symptoms, such as sores on the mouth or genitals.
The disease is named after the Turkish dermatologist, Dr. Hulusi Behcet. He first described the disease in the 1930s.
Researchers are still working to learn what causes Behcet disease. Changes in genes, problems in the immune response, and environmental factors are all being studied as causes. Behcet disease is not contagious. You can’t get it from someone else who has it. But it may run in some families.
Having a gene called HLA-B51 may increase your chance of getting Behcet disease. Other genes may also increase your risk of the disease. You have an increased risk if other members of your family have had the disease.
Symptoms can vary, depending on which blood vessels are affected. They can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms are:
Symptoms may last for a long time, or they might go away within a few weeks. In most cases, symptoms come and go over long periods of time. When the symptoms are active, this is called a disease flare.
Some less common problems that can be caused by Behcet disease include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. You’ll also have a physical exam. It can be difficult to diagnose Behcet disease. Some of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. There is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis. For these reasons, your healthcare provider may take a while to diagnose it. A variety of specialists may work together to diagnose Behcet disease. It may take months or longer for your symptoms to match a pattern that can help confirm the disease.
Some tests can help diagnose Behcet disease, such as:
Currently, there is no cure for Behcet disease. But most people can control their symptoms with treatment. Your treatment may vary depending on your symptoms and how mild or severe they are. Treatment may include:
Because the condition can affect so many parts of the body, you may need to see a range of healthcare providers to treat your condition. For example, you may need to see an eye healthcare provider if your eyes are affected.
One possible complication of Behcet disease is blindness. Inflammation of the brain and meninges, the covering of the brain and spinal cord, may happen. Blocked blood vessels can lead to problems anywhere in the body.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle is important to help manage the symptoms of Behcet disease. During a disease flare-up, make sure to:
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the below:
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