Behcet's disease is a rare, chronic inflammatory disorder. The cause of Behcet's disease is unknown, although there have been reports of a virus found in some individuals with the disease. Behcet's disease generally begins when individuals are in their 20s or 30s, although it can happen at any age. It tends to occur more often in men than in women. Symptoms of Behcet's disease include recurrent ulcers in the mouth (resembling canker sores) and on the genitals, and eye inflammation. The disorder may also cause various types of skin lesions, arthritis, bowel inflammation, meningitis (inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord), and cranial nerve palsies. Behcet's is a multi-system disease; it may involve all organs and affect the central nervous system, causing memory loss and impaired speech, balance, and movement. The effects of the disease may include blindness, stroke, swelling of the spinal cord, and intestinal complications. The disease is common in Japan, Turkey and Israel, and less common in the United States.
Treatment for Behcet's disease is symptomatic and supportive. Medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and/or regulate the immune system. Immunosuppressive therapy may be considered.
Behcet's disease is a lifelong disorder that comes and goes. Permanent remission of symptoms has not been reported.
Prepared by the National Institutes of Health
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