What is Behcet's Disease ?
Behçet's disease, also called Behçet's syndrome, is a rare chronic disease that causes inflammation of blood vessels in different parts of the body.
Behçet's disease develops when the body shows signs of infection due to a disorder in the autoimmune system.
Behçet's disease is named after the Turkish dermatologist and scientist Hulusi Behçet, who first identified the three main symptoms of the syndrome in one of his patients in 1924 and published his research on the disease in 1936.
The name of the disease was officially accepted as Morbus Behcet at the International Congress of Dermatology in Geneva in 1947.
What are the Causes of Behçet's Disease ?
Although the source of Behçet's disease is not known exactly, it is thought to be caused partly by genetics and partly by environmental factors, as it is commonly seen in the Middle East and Asian regions.
The cause of Behçet's disease is thought by medical professionals to be the body's reaction to infection due to a disorder in the immune system.
Autoimmune diseases mean that the immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells. The signs and symptoms of Behçet's disease are generally thought to be due to inflammation of the blood vessels, namely vasculitis. This condition can be observed in any arteries and veins and can damage any size vein in the body.
As a result of studies carried out by medical professionals to date, the existence of several genes associated with the disease has been revealed.
Some researchers think that in individuals with genes susceptible to Behçet's disease, a virus or bacterial strain may trigger these genes to cause the disease.
Behçet's disease usually affects men and women in their 20s or 30s, although it can also occur in children and older adults. The disease is more severe in men than in women.
Geography is a factor affecting the incidence of Behçet's disease. People from Middle East and East Asian countries, especially China, Iran, Japan, Cyprus, Israel and Turkey, are more likely to have Behçet's disease. For this reason, the disease is also unofficially known as Silk Road disease.
What are the Symptoms of Behçet's Disease ?
In the early stages of Behçet's disease, many signs and symptoms that may seem unrelated can be seen. The symptoms of Behçet's disease vary from person to person, over time, they may become exacerbated or become less severe and subside.
The signs and symptoms of Behçet's disease vary depending on which parts of the body are affected. These signs and symptoms include mouth sores, eye inflammation, skin rashes and lesions, and genital sores. The progressive complications of Behçet's disease depend on the signs and symptoms seen.
Among the areas commonly affected by Behçet's disease, the mouth comes first. The most common symptom of Behçet's disease is painful mouth sores resembling canker sores in and around the mouth. Small, painful, raised lesions quickly become painful ulcers. Wounds usually heal within one to three weeks, but this symptom often recurs.
Acne-like sores develop on the body of some individuals suffering from Behçet's disease. In other cases, red, swollen and highly sensitive nodules, ie abnormal tissue growths, develop on the skin, especially on the lower legs.
Red and open sores can form on the reproductive organs, namely the scrotum or vulva. These sores are often painful and can leave scars after they heal.
Individuals with Behçet's disease have inflammation in their eyes. This inflammation occurs in the uvea layer in the middle of the eye, which consists of three layers, and is called uveitis.
This causes redness, pain and blurred vision in both eyes. In people with Behçet's disease, this condition may flare up or subside over time.
Untreated uveitis can lead to decreased vision or blindness over time. People with signs and symptoms of Behçet's disease in the eye should visit an ophthalmologist regularly. Appropriate treatment can help prevent this symptom from developing complications.
Joint swelling and pain in individuals with Behçet's disease usually affects the knees. In some cases, ankles, elbows, or wrists may also be affected. Signs and symptoms may persist for one to three weeks and resolve on their own.
Inflammation when a blood clot forms in the veins can cause redness, pain, and swelling in the arms or legs. Inflammation in large arteries and veins can also lead to complications such as aneurysm, vasoconstriction or occlusion.
The effect of Behçet's disease on the digestive system can be seen in the form of various signs and symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding.
Inflammation in the brain and nervous system due to Behçet's disease can cause fever, headache, dizziness, loss of balance or paralysis.
Individuals who notice unusual signs and symptoms that may indicate Behçet's disease should make an appointment with a doctor. Individuals diagnosed with Behçet's disease should also consult their doctor if they notice new signs and symptoms.
How is Behçet's Disease Diagnosed ?
There is no test to detect Behçet's disease. For this reason, the diagnosis of the disease is made by examining the signs and symptoms by the doctor.
Since almost every individual with the disease develops mouth sores, mouth sores must be seen at least three times in 12 months before the diagnosis of Behçet's disease can be started.
In addition, the diagnosis requires at least two additional signs. These include recurrent wounds on the genitals, eye inflammation and skin sores. In this case, blood tests can rule out the possibility of other possible medical conditions.
One of the indirect tests that can be done for Behçet's Disease is the pathergy test. For this test, the doctor inserts a completely sterile needle under the skin, and examines the area two days later.
If a small, red bump appears at the injection site, this indicates that the immune system is overreacting to even a minor injury. Even if this test alone does not indicate the presence of Behçet's disease, it helps to diagnose it.
Treatment of Behçet's Disease
Treatment of Behçet's disease may vary depending on the person's complaints. Among the treatment methods, there may be changes in the lifestyle of the person, as well as with drugs that must be used for a long time.
In Behçet's disease, especially drug treatment may vary according to the severity and region of the disease. Behçet's disease usually manifests itself in the form of aphthae in the mouth. In this case, it can cause a decrease in the quality of life of the person. Cortisone sprays or solutions can usually be given in recurrent oral aphthae.
Ulcers occurring in the genital area are also very similar to aphthae. Cortisone-containing solutions or creams can also be recommended for the genital area. In addition, various painkillers may be recommended by the physician in response to the pain in the leg area.
People with Behçet's disease should be followed up regularly and they should be treated regularly without interruption. It is observed that Behçet's disease causes blindness in cases such as not being treated regularly or interrupting the treatment.