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What is Behcet’s syndrome?
Behcet’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks blood vessels, resulting in their inflammation. This chronic condition is typically associated with inflammation of a patient’s eyes, although it can affect multiple parts of the body.
Behcet’s syndrome is a rare condition whose causes are unknown. Researchers believe it has both genetic and environmental causes. Also known as Silk Road disease, Behcet’s syndrome is most commonly found in the area stretching from the Mediterranean to the Far East.
Symptoms and causes
Symptoms of Behcet’s syndrome typically begin in early adulthood - when a patient is in his or her 20s or 30s - and include eye inflammation, recurring mouth or genital sores, joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue.
Other symptoms may include rashes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or redness in the eyes. More serious symptoms may include loss of coordination, blood clots or vision loss. Patients may be at increased risk of stroke or brain inflammation if Behcet’s has affected their brain or blood vessels.
There is no cure for Behcet’s syndrome, but treatment can reduce pain and limit complications. Treatment options include corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation and immunosuppressants. Medications for mouth or genital sores can also greatly reduce discomfort.
Eye drops, mouthwash, and skin moisturizers may also reduce symptoms and are often available over the counter. These may be tried before progressing to medication if symptoms are not too severe. Regular exercise and rest, especially during flare-up periods, are also recommended.