Behcet's Syndrome - Symptoms

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What are symptoms of Behçet's syndrome?

The symptoms of Behçet's syndrome depend on the area of the body affected. Behçet's syndrome can involve inflammation of many areas of the body. These areas include the arteries that supply blood to the body's tissues. Behçet's syndrome can also affect the veins that take the blood back to the lungs to replenish oxygen. Other areas of body that can be affected by the inflammation of Behçet's syndrome include the back of the eyes (retina), brain, joints, skin, and bowels.

The mouth and genital ulcers of Behçet's syndrome are generally painful and tend to recur in crops (many shallow ulcers occur at the same time). They range in size from a few millimeters to 20 millimeters in diameter. The mouth ulcers occur on the gums, tongue, and inner lining of the mouth. The genital ulcers occur on the scrotum and penis of males and vulva of women and can leavescars.

Inflammation of the eye, which can involve the front of the eye (uvea) causing uveitis, or the back of the eye (retina) causing retinitis, can lead to blindness. Symptoms of eye inflammation include pain, blurred vision, tearing, redness, and pain when looking at bright lights. It is very important for patients with BBehçet's syndrome to have this sensitive area monitored by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

If the arteries become inflamed (arteritis) from Behçet's syndrome, it can lead to death of the tissues whose oxygen supply depends on these vessels. This could cause a stroke if it is affecting the brain vessels, belly pain if affecting the bowel, etc. When veins become inflamed (phlebitis), the inflammation can involve large veins that develop blood clots which can loosen and migrate to cause pulmonary embolisms.

Symptoms of inflammation of the brain or tissue that covers the brain (meninges) include headaches, neck stiffness, and is often associated with fever. Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or the meninges (meningitis) can cause damage to nervous tissue and lead to weakness or impaired function of portions of the body. This can result in confusion and coma. Typically these features occur later in the disease course, years after the diagnosis.

Joint inflammation (arthritis) can lead to swelling, stiffness, warmth, pain, and tenderness of joints with Behçet's syndrome. This occurs in about half of patients with Behçet's syndrome at sometime during their lives. Knees, wrists, ankles, and elbows are the most common joints affected. The skin of patients with Behçet's syndrome can develop areas of inflammation that spontaneously appear as raised, tender, reddish nodules (erythema nodosum), typically on the front of the legs. Some patients with Behçet's syndrome develop a peculiar red or blistery skin reaction in places where they have been pierced by blood-drawing needles (see pathergy test in diagnosis section). Research has found that acne occurs more frequently in patients with Behçet's syndrome that also have arthritis as a manifestation.

Ulcerations can occur at any location in the stomach, large or small bowel in patients with Behçet's disease.

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Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 26

I have suffered with Behcet's Disease since I was 19 (I'm now 43). It began with oral ulcers, extreme fatigue, and erythema nodosum lesions on my legs. After having a hysterectomy my Behcet's caused me not to heal internally allowing my intestines to prolapse into my vaginal canal twice. I ended up having multiple surgeries and spending 90 days (3 hours a day) in a hyperbaric chamber to induce healing. I have also had small vessel vasculitis of the foot and hand as well as genital ulcers that are relentless. Any kind of stress or trauma causes me to flare.

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Comment from: Lyra, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 17

I have finally been diagnosed with Behcet's and lupus by a local rheumatologist. I suffered from constant rashes, horrible infections, multiple hospital stays, genital and rectal lesions that were huge and so painful that would get infected (MRSA and staph) and I even had sepsis once. I have started on a course of treatment that is working well for me. I am back to work, just finished my PhD, I am back to running marathons and feel I have been given my life back. I thank my doctor for a good diagnosis and proper medicine dosing.

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